University of South Alabama Health

Integrative Health and Wellness Program

135

People served since 2020

Transforming Medicine with a Focus on Preventive Care

In 2015, the University of South Alabama (USA) Health initiated a culinary medicine grassroots effort with participation through the USA College of Medicine, the USA College of Nursing, USA physician leaders, and USA Mitchell Cancer Institute leaders. Today, they have administrative support at every level. This multi-pronged approach, which also includes registered dietitians, healthcare providers, and the community at large, has resulted in over 15 hands-on 3- to 6-week culinary medicine classes taught to community members, cancer survivors, and alumni. They offer inter-professional education in culinary medicine to nursing, medical, and physical therapy students. 

Teaching takes place in a demonstration kitchen at an internal medicine clinic on USA’s academic campus with plans to expand teaching kitchens at additional new locations in Mobile and Baldwin Counties. They also reach students with intellectual disabilities to increase independence and teach them safe and healthy food preparation skills. USA also reaches the greater community through partnerships. They teach classes at a local HBCU’s teaching kitchen, Bishop State Community College. They have also partnered with the Alabama Department of Public Health to teach classes to women enrolled in the CDC Wisewoman Program. The mission of USA Health is to “help people lead longer, better lives”. The health system, including the College of Medicine, is dedicated to transforming medicine in every way possible.

Snapshot

Key Demographics

  • Over 120 participants have completed hands-on, six week culinary medicine classes over the last 2.5 years.
  • Demo kitchen serving a vibrant primary care and Internal Medicine patient practice presenting with significant comorbidities. An additional demo kitchen is under construction in Baldwin County.
  • Registered dieticians providing one-on-one counseling to cancer patients and patients with diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. 
Quick Facts

11

3 physicians, 1 College of Nursing PhD, 1 College of Medicine PhD, 2 registered dieticians, 2 development staff, 1 community outreach coordinator, 1 manager of the Integrative Health and Wellness Program

Built-in kitchen in a university setting

IMPACT

As an internal medicine physician practicing in a region with high obesity rates and chronic health conditions as well as significant health disparities, I have to thank Dr. David Eisenberg for helping me find a way to a better approach to healthcare. I was searching after a lot of years in Internal Medicine for a better way to impact people’s lives when I attended my first HKHL conference many years ago.

I can’t wait to return in person in February 2022 and am happy to say we’ve made progress both locally in south Alabama and nationally thanks to your leadership and leadership from others, many of whom you have influenced. We are thrilled for the University of South Alabama to progress even further through membership in the TKC.

Dr. Robert Israel, Internal Medicine Physician and InstructorUniversity of South Alabama/USA Health

For the first time since I was a very young man, I actually feel good. I am exercising and enjoying it. I like what I'm eating and I have lost weight. I could lose more and maybe I will but I know I can sustain this lifestyle and it will sustain me. I feel good about myself and my back is so much better!

55 year old man with type 2 diabetes and chronic back painPatient of Dr. Robert Israel

Publications

Lemley, T. & Fenske, R. F.  Health sciences librarians supporting health and nutrition education in a culinary medicine curriculum. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 2020, 108(4), 631–638.

Jenna James, Nancy Brumfield, Gabrielle Wilson, Janel Lowman, LeAnne Bolton, Mark Beasley , & Jennifer Young-Pierce. Assessing a culinary medicine program to increase healthy eating among cancer survivors and their caregivers. USA Health Mitchel Cancer Institute 2019.

Press

WKRG News, “The Doctor Is In: Integrative Health & Wellness,” June 2021

FOX10 News, “Culinary medicine courses,” May 2017