Eating Healthy - A Chicago Example

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Healthy Foods
Eating Healthy -East Chicago" was developed specifically by Catholic Charities for families in East Chicago, Indiana, with young children who depend on food pantries for a regular portion of their diet. For these families there is often a problem with using food pantry food nutritiously. Some individuals have little knowledge of nutrition; others are unfamiliar with correct food preparation, or they don't have equipment with which to prepare nutritious meals. This program was developed after many clients of the Catholic Charities' Food Pantry in East Chicago expressed an interest in learning the basics of nutrition in order to provide healthy, well-balanced meals for their children.

Catholic Charities developed a collaboration with Purdue University's Cooperative Extension Services' Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program to present an educational program specifically geared for low-income mothers of young children who regularly rely on food pantries for a portion of their nutritional requirements.

The Eating Healthy East Chicago nutrition education program is comprised of four classes in nutrition education and food preparation, offered on 4 successive weeks. The set of four classes are repeated six times during the year, with classes in English and Spanish offered in alternate months.

This program aims to increase the ability of individuals and families with limited resources to utilize their food dollars and food stamps appropriately and to provide a safe meal environment. The program provides free, informal educational programs that focus on developing knowledge and skills related to nutrition and meal planning; food purchasing, preparation and safety; and resource management.

Topics presented include: Food Safety, Shopping and Menus, Reading Labels, Understanding the Food Pyramid, Breakfasts and Snacks, Feeding Infants and Children, and Physical Activity. Participants receive a Certificate of Participation from the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, and materials with which to try healthy recipes at home.

Participants learn how to protect their families from food-borne illnesses and plan meals that families love. Participants see live cooking demonstrations, sample the food prepared, participate in hand-on-activities including cooking the various recipes, and take home easy low cost recipes. Participants also develop a support network of other parents in similar circumstances who have the same aims of providing healthy, nutritious meals for their families.

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