Hello! My name is Emily Korte and I am Gleaners’ 2021 Summer Nutrition Intern. Over the past few months, I have worked with Sarah Wilson, RDN to create and facilitate kids' nutrition education lessons for our Summer Nutrition Club (SNC) program. SNC was created in 2018 as a supplement to Gleaners' summer feeding program in Marion County. In addition to providing nutritious food to local families, we wanted to offer an interactive nutrition education opportunity to get youth excited about the impact food can have on their health and wellbeing.
COVID-19 has continued to impact every aspect of Gleaners’ operations and SNC was no exception. To ensure the safety of our community, virtual and in-person lessons were offered to our partners. We were very fortunate that three sites welcomed us back in-person (while wearing masks and being socially distanced of course), and a fourth virtually. It was wonderful to once again hear all the giggles, watch faces fill with joy, and share a passion for learning in-person together. I am very grateful for this amazing experience and am looking forward to becoming a Registered Dietitian in the future!
Emily Korte, Summer Nutrition Intern, with Rainforest Energy Bites.
In the past, the SNC lessons focused on the five food groups of MyPlate, making healthy choices, and general health and wellness. This year’s lessons followed the same model while also incorporating new themes to encourage exploration. All of the recipes required no baking, contained simple ingredients, and featured kid-friendly cooking concepts to allow for their participation. These themes were brought to life through fun and engaging activities in each of the three weekly lessons.
In a world where we are so often told "no", we were able to tell the children "YES". Yes, you can try a new food! Yes, you make your own snack! Yes, you can sometimes have sweet treats! I wanted the children to be open to learning about new cultures, new ideas, and new foods. I wanted them to be able to experience Asia, the Amazon rainforest, and space, all without even leaving Indianapolis. My goal was for participants to gain independence, confidence, and knowledge about how they can positively impact their health. This summer, all of this and more was accomplished at Summer Nutrition Club!
The recipes, learning concepts, and themes that were covered in this year's program included:
1. MyPlate Around the World - Introduced foods found across Asia and where they fit in MyPlate, featured a highlight on how to use chopsticks, and made Cucumber "Sushi" Roll-Ups
SNC "Nutrition Explorers" try eating their Cucumber Roll-Ups with chopsticks
2. It’s a Jungle Out There! - Introduced different sources of protein foods and whole grains, explored animals and the layers of the Amazon rainforest, and tried Rainforest Energy Bites
SNC participants roll their Rainforest Energy Bites into fun (and tasty) shapes
3. Discover Dairy - Introduced dairy foods and how scientists modify food so it can be eaten in space, featured an activity to promote physical activity, and made Astronaut Pudding
The SNC "Nutrition Explorers" thought the Astronaut Pudding was out of this world!
Each child that participated in SNC got to take home a reusable shopping bag filled with tools to help them continue being a "nutrition explorer". Items in the bag included a spatula, vegetable peeler, cutting board, colander, reusable storage bag, MyPlate, and more! The summer came to a close with a Family Cooking Night. Westminster Neighborhood Services welcomed us back to demonstrate how to prepare a meal that the whole family could enjoy. The featured recipes were Veggie Quesadillas and Chunky Mango Pico. This meal supplies a serving of all five food groups and is quick, easy, and affordable to prepare. I demonstrated how to cut all fruits and vegetables including mango, zucchini, pepper, onion, jalapeno, and cucumber. I also provided general cooking tips. Westminster provided ingredients to each family in attendance so they could make the recipes at home. Gleaners supplemented these items with fresh produce and kitchen utensils for each household, as well as a few raffle prizes to give away!
Emily prepares samples for Family Cooking Night
The summer of 2021 certainly brought a unique set of challenges. However, due to assistance from Gleaners’ staff, my wildest dreams were able to come to life to make Summer Nutrition Club a success. I learned more from the children this summer than any nutrition textbook could teach me. I am forever grateful for this opportunity and hope my small input can make a larger impact on the health and wellbeing of this community!
Gleaners’ 2020 and 2021 SNC lesson content is available year-round on the Summer Nutrition Club page for anyone interested - feel free to check it out and share with others!
Thank you to all the wonderful community sites who hosted us for Summer Nutrition Club this year!
I started by working with the Immigrant Welcome Center (IWC) in order to get a better idea of how COVID-19 has been impacting the immigrant population and what Gleaners can do to help. The IWC reported that 38% of the immigrant population surveyed considered themselves to have less food security compared to before the pandemic. With more data from the IWC, I looked into Marion County zip codes with the highest numbers of immigrants reporting a need for food or rental assistance. This was an important step in my initial research that helped us better understand where immigrants are located and what resources are currently available to them. I continued by looking into how many American grocery stores, international grocery stores, convenience stores, food pantries, and food deserts are in these areas.
I also talked to IWC Natural Helpers (immigrants who volunteer to assist other immigrants), read research articles on food insecurity and food pantries pertaining to immigrant populations, and joined the IWC weekly partner calls. Through all of this information-gathering, I learned that there are several barriers that many immigrants face in consistently accessing nutritious foods. These include:
Image from IWC
These barriers fall into three categories:
All three categories of barriers must be addressed in order to create stable and sustainable solutions to food insecurity among immigrants.
What I learned from this experience:
From my background research, I learned that increasing access to foods that are familiar to immigrant households is crucial for improving food security among this population. I explored some ways that Gleaners might be able to partner with international grocery stores to increase the availability of culturally and religiously appropriate foods at pantries. I decided to visit an international grocery store myself to see how the selection of foods might differ from what is typically available at a traditional "American" grocery store. Watch the video below for a 30-second tour of the Saraga International Food Market that I visited on the northwest side of Indianapolis.
There were two key differences that stood out to me from my visit:
Images from Allison Drook and saragaindy.com
Exploring New Foods:
Wanting to look into more about foods from other cultures, I ended up buying some Fufu flour from the international market. This food comes from Nigerian culture and contains some of their staple foods: mashed plantain, potato granules, cassava, saffron and turmeric. I chose to focus on this culture because Nigeria is listed as one of the top countries of origin for immigrants served by the IWC, and I was not familiar with many of the common foods in this cuisine. Watch the video below to see how easy Fu Fu dough is to make!
Click the links below to view the other recipes and handouts that I made during this rotation. These were all designed to help immigrants utilize the foods they might receive from food pantries, as well as to introduce some new cultural dishes to anyone who likes to explore different cuisines!
I am excited to see how Gleaners continues this collaborative and important work! Some next steps for Gleaners and IWC include exploring ways to source more culturally appropriate foods and spices, helping agency pantries be more welcoming and inclusive of immigrant clients, and translating recipes and educational resources in different languages. Stay up-to-date on the progress of this project and other nutrition outreach programs by visiting the NutritionHub website, Facebook page, and Instagram account regularly!
Hi everyone! My name is Lydia Conner, and I am the Summer Nutrition Intern at Gleaners Food Bank for the second year in a row. This summer was much different from the last two years of Summer Nutrition Club due to COVID-19. To keep everyone safe, Gleaners staff and partnering sites tried out virtual programming for the first time. While it has been a unique summer, this has been a valuable experience for me as I take my next steps toward becoming a dietitian.
Lydia Conner, Summer Nutrition Intern, with one of this year's tasty recipes
Over the past few months, I have been working with Sarah Wilson, Gleaners’ Nutrition Manager and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, to navigate lesson content creation. Last summer’s lessons were focused on the five food groups of MyPlate, trying new fruits and vegetables, and interactive group activities.
This year’s lessons built upon those concepts to involve children and families in growing fruits and vegetables, choosing healthy options, and preparing balanced meals together. Each of the three lessons featured kid-friendly cooking skills and healthy recipes that used foods from the Gleaners family meal boxes and produce boxes. As a bonus, the kids had the chance to follow along in weekly garden updates of my family’s garden, and I was able to show them how to incorporate some of our fresh produce into the recipes!
This child from Westminster Neighborhood Center was excited about participating in Summer Nutrition Club!
The recipes for each week were:
The lessons also included basic garden care tips, a Fruit & Vegetable Musical Chairs Game, and a Plant & Animal Protein Activity. Overall, the objectives were to show the children where some of their food can come from and encourage them to choose a variety of foods from each food group.
The summer came to a close with two Virtual Family Cooking Classes on Facebook Live: one on how to make zucchini boats and the other on how to make homemade pizza. My family had lots of zucchini coming out of our garden this summer, and it was put to great use for several different zucchini boat recipe variations. For the pizza recipe, I demonstrated how to make an easy homemade pizza dough, topping it with fresh veggies. The tomatoes and green peppers were fresh out of my family’s garden! I also provided tips for parents to include their children in the recipe preparation from preparing zucchini boats, measuring ingredients, topping the zucchini boats, and topping the pizzas.
The finished pizza from our second Virtual Family Cooking Class on Facebook Live
The recipes and recorded videos from each lesson and virtual family cooking class were posted on the Gleaners NutritionHub website and Facebook page. Links to this content were then emailed to each of the 30 Indianapolis community sites that received food boxes from Gleaners this summer. We were lucky to work with some wonderful site coordinators who went above and beyond to teach the lessons at their camps or send materials home with the family meal boxes!
Youth from Westminster Neighborhood Services had a blast with hands-on learning about gardening and cooking this summer!
While this summer was challenging to navigate at times, I am very grateful to have had the experience of communicating nutrition information virtually and contributing to the content on the new NutritionHub website. It will continue to be an amazing resource for the families that Gleaners serves, and Summer Nutrition Club material will now be available to anyone interested year-round!
Sarah Wilson, RDN, Nutrition Manager at Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, along with guest blog posts by dietetic interns