Community Based Programs
Keeping healthy is easier when you don’t have to go it alone. Communities all over the world are coming together together to make health a community responsibility. A key idea behind the Nutrition Toolbox is to “Find the Good and Praise It”. In this section of the toolbox, we will highlight programs that connect food and health in ways that are innovative, effective, and sustainable.
American Community Gardening Association
American Community Gardening Association is a membership organization for urban and rural community gardening. The non-profit’s mission is to create and enhance community, food access, and nutrition through gardening.
If you live in St. Louis, Missouri, a bus brimming with fresh produce may just turn up in your neighborhood or at your job.
Public Health Advocates
Public Health Advocates is a public health organization working towards the promotion of well-being in communities through the elimination of health disparities and advocating for public health driven policies. Their recent policy brief predicts that a majority of California adults (55%) now has diabetes or pre-diabetes. See their policy recommendations on overweight, obesity, and diabetes.
Campaign for Food Justice
The Campaign for Food Justice promotes food justice on the community and policy levels supporting the right to food. The organization works to improve public food access on the local level while advocating to end the exploitation of food and agriculture systems.
The Suppers Programs
There are so many great organizations around the country working to create change in the food system but one of them shines bright. The Suppers Program has been helping people with many different food-related challenges overcome these bumps and live a healthy life through eating real food and building a close-knit community. Founded by Dorothy Mullen and located in Princeton, New Jersey, the Suppers Programs envisions “a world free of suffering caused by processed food.” The mission of Suppers is “to provide safe and friendly settings where anyone — and especially people with food-related health challenges — can develop and manage their own personal transitions to a healthier life.”
The Suppers Programs is a community based program that can be seen as a “social experience” and thrives on the currency of love and community. Participants in the program gather usually in a private home and cook a real meal together while a volunteer facilitator presides over the meal. A discussion, presentation, or reading may take place afterwards that help guide the participants through the right path. Mullen developed this concept after many pilot sessions to answer the question: How do people manifest healthy change in their lives given the tools of nourishing food and social support? The answer: “First practice non-judgment.” Practicing non-judgement is just one of the four principles that support the Suppers Programs’ mission. The other three are: whole food preparation, no commercial messages, and restoration of the family table.
The program also focuses on the idea that “how you feel is data.” It is essentially the idea that whatever symptoms you are feeling such as fatigue, depression, or insomnia are all part of a bigger problem that you have the ability to change. They use the scientific data to translate what you are feeling into data that can be used to help you overcome these feelings, eating healthier, and living a healthier life.
Dorothy is a champion in the world of food system change and it is exciting to see where she will go in the future. The Suppers Program is a model organization that should be followed by others and is creating necessary change in our food system that will benefit the lives of many people and improve the long-term health of those involved.
“The Suppers Programs has figured out a way to put love back in the recipe for food and health, and the results are impressive.” – Wolfram Alderson
The Suppers Programs’ 10 Points of Supported Change:
- Learn to cook real food.
- Develop a palate for real food.
- Come to desire the foods that make you well while you…
- Let go of the foods that keep you sick, fat, depressed, or addicted.
- Come to understand that how you feel is data and that you can rely on your body to tell you which foods are the healthiest for you.
- Give and get social support while you experiment and distinguish treats from triggers and…
- Practice living according to your intentions instead of your impulses.
- Make a habit of eating the foods that keep you on your path.
- Live in the spirit of nutritional harm reduction because none of us lives in a perfect food world.
- Provide the experience for others.