From preparing healthy meals on a budget to eating a balanced diet, the University’s free health clinic, Flourish, aims to provide nutrition education and resources to tackle local food insecurity.
Flourish works to equip low-income individuals and families with nutrition resources, including a bi-weekly nutrition education table, one-on-one nutrition coaching, and nutrition-focused motivational messages for patients.
Flourish was started by medical students at UNC on the basis of the idea that nutrition and food insecurity play a critical role in health, said Alice Ammerman, director of the Center for Health Promotion and of Disease Prevention and Clinic Educational Advisor.
The Student Health Action Coalition is Flourish’s parent organization. Located in Carrboro, SHAC opened in 1967 as the first free, student-run clinic in the country.
“(Bloom) has grown over the years,” Ammerman said. “He is now affiliated with the SHAC clinic which was founded and has been operated by students of medicine and other health affairs for over 20 years.”
Sylvia Wang, co-director of Flourish, said this is a unique program for SHAC as its volunteers include undergraduates.
“Unlike other SHAC programs, (members and volunteers) don’t need a medical degree or certain certifications to get involved,” Wang said.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Flourish was unable to organize her Cooking Matters at the Store tours, where attendees visit a grocery store and learn how to buy nutritious food on a budget of $ 10-20, Wang said. .
However, even through COVID-19, Flourish has not remained inactive.
“We really started to step up our efforts during the pandemic,” Wang said. “We started the food drive last year in response to the pandemic.”
Root Causes, a student-run organization at Duke University School of Medicine, partners with Flourish to collect food from local food banks and provide it. at Flourish’s food collection table at SHAC. They are responsible for storing the food at Farmer Foodshare until a volunteer from Flourish or SHAC comes to pick it up, Wang said.
Wang said that every Wednesday, Flourish picks up about 50 pounds of food and drops it off at the SHAC clinic for distribution to participants. In addition, Flourish offers nutrition education at their tables every other Wednesday, she said.
Currently, Flourish’s efforts are focused on delivering food to the clinic on a weekly basis, Wang said. However, they hope to have more volunteers so they can provide nutrition education each week, rather than every other, and soon restart programs like Cooking Matters at the Store Tour.
Junior Malik Tiedt, the president of nutritional education for Flourish, said that due to the program’s partnership with Root Causes, Flourish will be able to increase the amount of food they offer to SHAC participants in the weeks to come. and the months to come.
When patients collect food from the SHAC site, Wang said that she can point out certain vitamins in the food and how she can prepare it.
“I want the SHAC patient population to be more educated and healthier,” Wang said.
Tiedt said it would be great to establish a collaborative effort, like Flourish’s with Root Causes, with other organizations on campus that are helping tackle food insecurity.
With the Root Causes partnership and the student volunteers involved in Flourish, the clinic continues to focus on teaching low-income individuals and families about healthy eating.
“Even though we can only contribute one thing to someone’s diet, I think that means we are successful,” Tiedt said.
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