Lily Martinez is interning with Operation Frontline DC this summer. In the fall, she will begin her senior year at American University where she majors in Health Promotion.
Yesterday I went with Ona to assist with a demo class at a night shelter for the homeless in northwest DC. These participants, all women in their 40s and 50s, are currently making the transition out of homelessness. The site coordinator told us that one of the conditions of this program is that the women must be involved in some activity that promotes their ability to function successfully once they are ready to leave the shelter. This activity could range from a class focused on budgeting to one that teaches individuals how to manage spiritual, emotional, or physical health (like an Operation Frontline class).
About ten women participated in the demo and throughout the two hours they were lively and engaged in both the discussion and cooking activities. They offered their opinions, suggestions, and questions, which ranged from what’s a serving of avocado to if soy cheese is healthy. Using the information they learned about food groups and serving sizes from the overview of My Pyramid, they completed a meal planning activity where we collaborated to create a day’s meal plan that met all of the USDA’s recommended daily requirements.
The theme of the demo was healthy snacking, which is something that can be helpful for anyone to learn, especially since unhealthy snack foods can be quite tempting. Since these participants are currently provided with dinner but are on their own for snacks, it was a particularly appropriate lesson for now and in the future when they leave.
The two snacks that we made were a fresh salsa-avocado wrap using whole-wheat tortillas and a yogurt parfait with seasonal fruits (strawberries, grapes, and mango) and low-fat, low-sugar granola. The women were eager to help in any way that they could (some of them even offered to wash dishes!) Each participant contributed to the dishes, cutting tomatoes, peppers, and onions for the salsa, and then slicing the fruit and assembling their own parfaits. To top it all off, they were all excited to try the snacks and most of them thoroughly enjoyed them.
While this site provides a cooking class to its residents, they currently do not have a program that combines cooking with nutrition education. We look forward to working with them again soon, hopefully in a full Operation Frontline series.
2 large tomatoes, chopped (or 1 14.5 oz. can chopped tomatoes)
1 Jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 green or red bell pepper, chopped
½ red onion, chopped
1 Tbs fresh cilantro, chopped
1 Tbs cider vinegar or lime juice
- Combine all ingredients in large bowl.
- Let sit for at least 20 minutes for vegetables to absorb flavors.
- Enjoy with tortilla chips, in a wrap, or as a sauce for meat or fish!