“There’s gotta be a better way,” my mentor groans as she lugs an industrial-size container of sticky bun smear back to her desk.
“There’s gotta be a better way,” I am sure our dietetic intern is thinking as she sorts through box after box of food products to be ranked and sent to local food pantries.
“There’s gotta be a better way,” my director encourages us as she works with us to develop a new strategy for reaching and helping the people we serve.
While a bit comical, that phrase has become the starting point for truly valuable change in our little Health and Wellness team at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. This phrase has made me look deeper into why we do what we do as well as why we don’t do the things we don’t do. Is there a reason we do something a certain way? What would happen if we changed our methods? Do we have the capacity to start something brand new? At the beginning of my service year, my mentor Erin mentioned to me that we had gotten some inquiries about nutrition and cooking classes for pregnant or new moms, but we didn’t have anything to offer beyond basic nutrition classes for adults. As I started to think about my capstone project for the year, that idea stuck with me. I continued to ask myself those same questions and challenged myself to build something totally new, something we hadn’t done before.
The World Health Organization (WHO) asserts that nutrition education and counseling during pregnancy has positive impacts on moms and their developing babies1. Knowing WHO’s stance and having a passion for maternal and child health, I started to do some research on nutrition for expecting moms. One of my mentors, a Registered Dietitian, sent me papers and links and webinars and any other resources that could help me develop this project. My other mentor brought me her grad school textbook called “Nutrition through the Life Cycle.” This was the first time I’d been excited to read a textbook! The support from both of my mentors helped propel my project forward.
Fast forward to now and my project is complete. A three-class series on healthy eating during pregnancy, key nutrients, cooking skills, and food safety is being marketed to local organizations. My debut class was presented to a group of expecting moms at UPMC Shadyside Family Health Center in conjunction with another NHC program. As I review my project each time we teach it, I wonder, “Is there a better way?” My ultimate goal for this project, like all the others that we have developed or modified as NHC members at the food bank, is to make sure that it is the best that it can be for the people we serve.
This post was written by NPHC member Rachel Good.
Rachel serves at Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank as a Health Educator.