Bring It Community Partnership Feature: Cooking with the Church Health Center

CHC pizza

This summer’s pilot program will be back by popular demand in September!

Today over 30 % of Memphis residents are obese and face a greater risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. While obesity is in part due to poor eating habits and ever-increasing portion sizes, it is also a product of low-income neighborhoods with no supermarkets and no access to fresh local food. Memphis has a big problem on its hands.

At Bring It Food Hub, we want to change these statistics and are focused on increasing the accessibility, affordability and consumption of fresh, local foods in Memphis, but we can’t do it alone. That’s why we’ve partnered with community organizations like the Church Health Center. The Church Health center’s mission is to “reclaim the Church’s biblical commitment to care for our bodies and our spirits.” In addition to providing low-cost health care to thousands of uninsured Memphians, the Church Health Center also promotes healthy lifestyles with a wellness center that includes, among other things, a fitness area and a demonstration kitchen.

This summer, Bring It Food Hub and the Church Health Center collaborated to host a series of six cooking demonstrations at the Wellness Facility called “Bring It. Cook It. Take It.” During the evening class participants observed a cooking demo, taste the prepared meal and took home a recipe card along with the fresh produce needed to make that meal at home, all for only $5. Carolyn Nichols, nutrition education coordinator for the Church Health Center, felt that the summer series was really a success. “We averaged about 12 people a night ranging from moms and teens to retirees in the community, and the feedback was really great.”

The focus of the series was to promote meals and ingredients that are good for the body but can be prepared in 30 minutes or less. The meals- ranging from skillet dishes to farm fresh pizzas to Southwestern sweet potatoes, – were delicious, yet simple enough to not overwhelm a new chef or someone with little time. Working with area farmers, Bring It provided the produce at cost, and the Church Health Center staff educated participants on portion sizes, meal planning, carb counting, healthy eating habits, grocery shopping and other topics.

Nichols explains that the partnership with Bring It just makes sense. “The Church Health Center has the space, staff and a network of people already using our facilities, and Bring It has the ability to source local food and connect with local farmers.” It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

If you are interested in healthy cooking with fresh, local fruits and vegetables, please join us for our Fall series at 5:30 p.m. every Thursday in September. Classes are $5 and include a tasting plus all the fresh veggies needed for the meal! Classes are hosted at the Church Health Center’s Nutrition Kitchen, located at 1115 Union Ave.

Want to volunteer for Bring It? Have any questions? Please shoot us an e-mail at localfood@bringitfoodhub.com

Church Health Center:

http://churchhealthcenter.org/assets/1850/bring_it_cook_it_take_it_flyer_2014.pdf