Promoting Nutrition Security in the Community: Teaching Kitchen and Food Pharmacy Under One Roof
The Providence Milwaukie Community Teaching Kitchen, an outpatient nutrition center and food pantry, addresses food insecurity and centers preventative health for Providence patients and community members alike. The Teaching Kitchen space integrates cooking classes, a market-style food pantry, outpatient nutrition services, and connection to individualized community resources to provide families with long-term health solutions.
While it is vital to provide food resources directly, we understand that people will make changes and use healthier ingredients when food and nutrition education goes hand in hand. For example, every cooking class comes with a recipe bag from the family market. Class activities use these ingredients in the day’s recipes and participants discuss other ways to use them and how to make substitutions. Then, the class members take home food to make the recipes for their families.
A food box contains a majority of fresh produce, whole grains, and lean proteins; it feeds a family for three to five days. When transportation is an issue, the kitchen reaches the needs of families where they are by delivering food boxes. Spanish language services are also provided for the Spanish speaking families and community members the kitchen serves.
In the hospital’s primary care residency, trainees learn how to integrate the Community Teaching Kitchen services into the care they provide through referrals. Medical residents also get hands-on practice leading classes for specific health needs such as diabetes self-management, a healthy heart, a vegetarian diet, pregnancy, and others. Registered Dietitians are primary instructors in culinary classes ensuring patients take away impactful dietary knowledge as well as necessary culinary techniques, food preparation skills and money saving strategies. Dietitian led culinary nutrition classes are billed through Providence hospital and successfully utilizes group medical nutrition therapy reimbursement.
Since classes have gone online, attendance has scaled up and spread throughout the state. The Community Teaching Kitchen partners with community based organizations to ensure that out of town participants have access to the same healthy ingredients that are included in take hope recipe bags following each class.