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April 6, 2010

March Mobile Health and Nutrition Education

Our mobile food distributions currently serve individuals and families at 10 sites throughout the city each month. Not only do clients receive a 3-5 day supply of groceries, but also clients learn about community resources and health and nutrition. This March, we focused our health and nutrition education on healthy fats and oils, teaching clients about how to include healthy fats into our diets and how to read nutrition labels in order to look out for harmful trans fats.

Do you know the four different kinds of fats: monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, saturated and trans? Clients at this month’s mobile food distributions had the opportunity to learn to recognize these different fats by reading the nutrition label on several food products like olive oil, almonds, mayonnaise, yogurt, coconut oil, vegetable shortening and Ritz crackers, for example. Special attention was paid to recognizing trans fats in the nutrition label by checking the ingredient list for partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. The USDA recommends we have no trans fats in our diets. These harmful, man-made fats can never be fully broken down in our bodies. Furthermore they raise the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and other bad blood lipids while lowering levels of HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), clogging the arteries and making them inflexible thereby potentially leading to heart attack, heart disease and stroke. By learning to read nutrition labels and guard against trans fats, clients are empowered to make conscious food choices and prevent diet-related diseases.

Children attending mobile food distributions this month had the opportunity to sample 5 different varieties of nuts. Nuts, they learned, are great for your brain and your heart- they have healthy fats and proteins to make you grow big and strong. Children and adults learned that natural fats are actually good for you. Children received a “Go Nuts” coloring book with images of all the nuts they had sampled and short descriptions of why they are good for you.

Finally, Mental Health America, the Sacramento Valley Pharmacist Association, and City Animal Shelter each joined SFBFS at a mobile distribution this month to offer their information and services to clients. We look forward to more partnerships with these and other area agencies at mobile distributions to come.

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