• Jessica

with little we have accomplished much

This week marks the first week of the BUY2THRIVE initiative. Many of you reading this had a hand in making this happen through financial contributions, so to you, first I want to say thank you. Without you, none of this would have been possible. I must also say a deep thank you to Sofia Costa, the director of the nutrition course at Universidade Lurio (UniLurio), and the team of students working as the facilitators on this project. Because of them we were able to take the money donated through the CGIU crowdsourcing campaign and turn it into the first BUY2THRIVE project! Other friends and family, that I am deeply thankful for, have contributed their time and talents – drawing and cutting out educational materials, developing video content, packing, contributing nutritional recommendations, praying, supporting me emotionally and more. I have witnessed that with just a little funding, partnerships and friendships can accomplish a great deal. With little we have accomplished much.

Tuesday was the first day we spent in the communities. Myself, Sofia, 32 well trained students, Ralph Hall (my advisor), and Dylan Allanson (a very supportive friend) traipsed off into a community located near the university to ask households to do an initial assessment. We learned about the types of foods they eat and buy each week and what they generally perceive about the importance of eating a diverse diet (Quick check in – have you remembered to eat a diverse diet this week? How many servings of fruits and vegetables have you had today?) I was honestly surprised that the students came back the next day because the survey was LONG, we walked probably 5km to find all the households, and it was dark by the time we finished. But the second day, all 32 of them showed up again, ready for round 2. This time the community we were in was not so accustomed to white people – and there was some apprehension to us being there. But not for the kids! They spent a lot of time trying to touch my hair and skin – and were thrilled with the game of high fives we created. In the end, the community leader managed to convince 30 households to participate.

As I have started to look over the questionnaires, it has been again confirmed that food purchases play an essential role in the nutrition of households. Most households do purchase a portion of their foods, including vegetables and fruits, protein sources, and starches. There is definitely potential here to make even small adjustments to the foods that are purchased each week and month to increase the diet diversity of in the households, in a way that they can still enjoy. As a former chef, the enjoyment of food is almost equally as important to me as the nutrition. Food comforts, it nourishes, it brings together families, and is a source of cultural identity. All these factors must be considered when thinking about changing diets and I think focusing on diet diversity is the best way of doing that. I am excited to see that the idea of BUY2THRIVE has relevance and am hoping that this is just the beginning.


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