The Value of Nutrition – Nourishing Mind and Body
By: Kathryn Bernstein, MPH, RD, Nutrition Program Manager, Illinois Public Health Institute
It’s March, which means Chicagoans have officially experienced a full year of the COVID-19 pandemic. This last year has made so much of what we cherish harder. For many of us it’s been harder to connect with our loved ones and our communities, spaces for conversation have closed, and more of our neighbors are experiencing hunger and food insecurity. But it’s also during this time that Sunday Supper Church has offered a light. Throughout this pandemic the community has gathered every Sunday in a virtual space to fill those gaps brought on by the pandemic – to share a sense of connectedness, to converse, and to collectively break bread over a common, free, nourishing meal.
These shared experiences have been mentally and emotionally nourishing. It’s with these values in mind that we turn to nutrition. It’s critical that we ensure the meals we share, and the foods we provide to our neighbors, are nourishing to the physical body, too.
Tragically, we know this pandemic has hit our neighbors of color and our neighbors with the lowest incomes the hardest. The reasons for poor COVID-19 outcomes are complex and we still have a lot to learn. But we do know that Americans with COVID-19 have been 12 times more likely to die if they had an underlying condition (most commonly heart disease or type 2 diabetes). Nutrition is one of, if not the most important factor in preventing chronic conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. Most of us have at least one chronic condition. It’s vital that we value nutrition now, but also as we start to recover from this pandemic.
Good nutrition helps us to stay physically well, yes, but it also supports our ability to connect with our loved ones and our communities, to participate in the work and volunteerism that bring us meaning, things that many of us are eager to regain in the months and years ahead.
It’s with this in mind that Sunday Supper Club is partnering with our team at the Illinois Public Health Institute. We are able to support organizations to provide healthier foods to the communities they serve. We have started this partnership by creating a grocery shopping guide for those of you who generously shop for your neighbors. You can use it to help pick out foods that support health. Please check it out here. We hope it supports you in your efforts to nourish your neighbors – mind and body.
Please feel free to share any ideas you have on how we can better support the nutrition of our communities.