The Pollin Food Literacy Initiative: Innovative, Creative, Empowering
The Pollin Food Literacy initiative aims to improve cardiovascular wellbeing by improving nutrition behaviors in disadvantaged communities.
But, what is Food literacy? Food Literacy is the understanding of multiple elements that impact the way we eat.
Eating habits are affected by different abilities, circumstances, and skill sets, however, most nutrition programs focus on nutrition facts, and less on skills that can help translate knowledge to positive health behaviors and health outcomes. In the last decade a new field has emerged, Food Literacy.
Food literacy is the capability to make healthy food choices in different contexts, settings and situations. It traditionally addresses skills such as nutrition knowledge, competencies, self-efficacy, literacy and health literacy. To ensure transition of behaviors to bring about heart-healthy consumption, we took this concept to the next level, and designed a program that addresses additional aspect we identified as factors that affect food literacy, such as culture, emotional eating, and creating healthy environments.
In the Pollin Center fashion that seeks to promote sustainable impact, our program included development of a train-the-trainers-didactic-pack, and a community lay-leaders training element. The trained lay-leaders in turn will disseminate food literacy skills through the framework of existing community social-structures utilizing the Pollin-Food-Literacy didactic plan and materials.
Our didactic-kit includes a colorful and detailed facilitator manual, as well as visuals, props, games and discussion cards. The kits allow facilitating food literacy groups in a fun, hands-on, user-friendly manner. Through the program woman learn about the Mediterranean diet and how to incorporate it into their daily menu; how to modify and “healthify” their recipes, tools for coping with emotional eating, how to better understand food labels and make healthier choices, how to get their family and community onboard, how to shop and budget for healthy meals and more!
Developed for the general Israeli community, the program was adapted to the Ultra-Orthodox and Arab sectors. Program materials enable our trained lay-leaders to disseminate food literacy skills through engaging visual and game-based tools.
We have completed training of our first group of East Jerusalem lay-leaders. Feedback, to date, has been extremely positive. The course proved to be great fun, as well as educational and empowering. We continue to support our graduates as they go back to their communities and disseminate the program on their own, and look forward to implement this program in additional communities.
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