March is National Nutrition Month!
Most of us know March for basketball, corned beef and cabbage, and the official start of spring, but did you know that it’s also National Nutrition Month.® This nutrition education and informational campaign is sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
In recognition of National Nutrition Month®, here are a few highlights of some of the work around nutrition and health going on at Mid-Ohio Foodbank!
Over the past several years, the Foodbank has radically increased efforts to distribute more fresh foods. In 2012, we were able to distribute about 16.1 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables – 35% of our total distribution. If you add in meat, dairy, etc., about half of what we distributed last year was fresh! Our many fresh food distribution programs, as well as the hard work of our partner agencies, allowed many of our hungry neighbors were able to access healthier, more nutritious foods than they would have been able to otherwise.
In addition to providing fresh, healthy foods, the Foodbank has been providing cooking and nutrition education classes. Dr. Amy Headings, Director of Nutrition, has piloted two classes in the past year: a Crock Pot cooking class, and Pantry Panic!, a class which helps participants learn how to develop recipes from items that they have at home and foods they might receive at a food pantry. Approximately 50 people have attended the Crock Pot classes, and the inaugural Pantry Panic class had approximately 10 participants. During March, we will be hosting participants from Gladden for another session of Pantry Panic, and are working with our partners in Fairfield County to coordinate another series of Crock Pot cooking classes.
According to surveys taken before and after the class, participants who completed the Crock Pot cooking class increased their fruit and vegetable consumption by over ½ serving each day – a meaningful step toward making half of our plate fruits and vegetables! They also showed a statistically significant increase in their confidence in cooking from basic ingredients, such as fresh meat and vegetables, as opposed to prepackaged meals.
We’ve also been working with The Ohio State University on diabetes initiatives, thanks to the grant from Bristol Myers-Squibb awarded in 2011.
As we grow into our new vision and mission, we’ll be doing a lot more to focus on nutrition and wellness – and National Nutrition Month® is a great time to recognize those efforts!