Have you ever really considered how big a role nutrition plays in our daily lives?
I had the opportunity to attend the American Heart Association’s Rural Health Summit recently. Healthcare advocates from across the United States gathered, and during the summit, all attendees were asked, “What was the most important social determinant of health that needed to be addressed?”
The overwhelming response was nutrition and food security.
As we have had conversations with participants, patients, physicians, dentists, and optometrists who have spent time at Lubbock Impact, we see that nutrition is an overarching factor in the work we do. What you eat, or don’t eat, impacts your physical well-being, mental state, energy levels, and even your ability to work. This is true for all of us, as human beings.
You are probably thinking, well, that’s true, but where are you going with all of this?
I wanted to share how, because of our community partnerships, Lubbock Impact has been able to implement practical initiatives to help participants on their wellness journey.
Thanks to the American Heart Association, they have equipped us with two, full-time, paid volunteers this summer and fall. These volunteers teach classes on heart health, diabetes, and healthy living. Having these volunteers serve with us throughout the week means that they can have conversations with participants at various touch points to help produce change.
Another great example happened last month when TTHSC medical students came to Lubbock Impact to host a healthy eating class. While planning this class, we had conversations about the food sources available to our participants. Typically, participants shop at their nearest dollar store, especially if they do not have a car or gas money. With this in mind, the students shared healthy, high-protein meals with ingredients from the dollar store that could be made in the microwave. Participants were thrilled by what they had learned. They were encouraged by the healthy meals they could make with ingredients that were already easily accessible to them.
We also have community partnerships with different organizations that come to check participants’ blood pressure or monitor their diabetes. Of course, we have a food pantry, which offers various healthy ingredients for meals.
By integrating the American Heart Association’s resources, educational classes, our food pantry, and other community partnerships, our hope is to empower participants to take control of their own wellness journeys. We want to come alongside them with encouragement and education to benefit their emotional, physical, and spiritual health. While we are so fortunate to have partnerships to address these needs, it still may feel like a small contribution amidst a vast challenge. Still, it is a starting point; a catalyst for change.
After attending the American Heart Association conference and thinking about the overarching issue of nutrition and food insecurity across our nation, I think Lubbock Impact is on the right track. This is because of your support. When you pray, volunteer, donate goods, or give financially, you are helping us make all of these resources available. Thank you for allowing us to be in this space.