From Our Team
Posted on July 16, 2019 by Jana Renner
We’ve all heard the saying: “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.”
Every day in the El Paso region, there are thousands of individuals and families who suffer from food insecurity. According to FeedingAmerica.org, nearly 80,000 people in El Paso County suffer from food insecurity and about one out of every five children go hungry each day.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food insecurity as limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods or uncertain ability to acquire these foods in socially acceptable ways. Food insecurity is associated with chronic health problems in adults including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, hyperlipidemia, obesity, and mental health issues including major depression.
The Paso del Norte Health Foundation, through its Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) initiative, has partnered with Kelly Memorial Food Pantry to address the causes of food insecurity. The HEAL initiative aims to make healthy eating and active living the easy choice for all people in the Paso del Norte region.
For 20 years, Kelly Memorial Food Pantry has helped those in need by providing them with emergency groceries. However, according to executive director Warren Goodell, he’s seen the number of people suffering from food insecurity decrease only slightly. Currently they serve about 6,500 individuals each month and reach about 2,300 families.
That’s why Kelly Memorial Food Pantry partnered with the Paso del Norte Foundation to create a new pilot program, Fresh Start.
Fresh Start was started with the idea that the long-term solution lies not just in feeding those in need, but helping people overcome the obstacles – including education, employment and housing – which cause food insecurity.
Fresh Start participants receive food each month, but also receive lessons and skills to last a lifetime.
Fresh Start participants take part in free cooking classes, bio-measurements, and active living activities like yoga and Zumba, which are offered three times a week.
Each participant identifies three obstacles and receives counseling, coaching and support to address them. They also receive cooking and exercise classes, as well as a social network of support through its volunteers and other Fresh Start participants. The nine-month program currently has about 100 people enrolled.
Kelly Memorial Food Pantry offers healthy food to all its clients, including fresh, local produce, and support for this pilot program has helped homeless, veterans and victims of spousal abuse identify the root causes of their food insecurity and begin to overcome them. Goodell hopes that soon, Fresh Start will be expanded into the community to serve other food pantries and agencies in the region.
By giving people the tools and opportunities to eat healthier, be more active and overcome obstacles, the Paso del Norte Foundation, the HEAL initiative and partners like the Kelly Memorial Food Pantry, are giving El Pasoans skills that will last a lifetime and help to better the community. In this way, we can not only fight food insecurity, but also overcome it.
To learn more about Fresh Start, visit kellymemorialfoodpantry.com or the HEAL Initiative, visit pdnhf.org.
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