Food for the Soul offers more than nutrition to residents
WASHINGTON, DC (August 26, 2012)—For the last eight weeks, a little parish—Saint Teresa of Avila Roman Catholic Church—in Southeast Washington, DC has become a home for spiritual food for many health concerned District residents.
“There’s been a high level of interest of people seeking ways to increase their faith while improving their nutrition and wellness,” says Tambra Stevenson, creator of the program & nutrition educator with the Center for Nutrition, Diet and Health at the University of the District of Columbia.
Now in its third run, the “Food for the Soul: Faith-Based Nutrition Series” wraps up this summer. Participants like Charlene Howard have brought their children and spouse making it a family affair to become whole and healthy together. In her first assignment, which is a letter to God on what our health goals, she writes:
“I am working to be more intentional about what I put in my body. I don’t want to use commercial medications but would rather use foods that provide medicinal benefits.” She goes on to share: “If I do these things I will be able to be a more effective teacher, mother and wife. I will have more energy to be able to think more creatively.”
In the sessions, participants learn to cook, eat and pray together. With the written recipe in hand and produce supplied in the kitchen, teams rotate weekly to prepare a meal based on biblical scripture such as making whole grain bread from Ezekiel 4:9. Hot from the oven, they can taste and see the goodness of God’s creations.
Other sessions included creating their personalized ten kitchen commandments. One participant, Allison, reflects on her covenant with God. Her first commandment is ‘thou shall not have sodas, or other sugar-sweetened juice drinks or teas.’
Because of this unique program, participants are now looking at food from a spiritual lens and with great appreciation. During a mindful eating meditation, they prayed before eating an apple.
“As the instructor, I guided them through the meditation. They reflected on the farm workers who worked to harvest a perfect apple for them. And they gave thanks to God for making the perfect apple recipe with the right balance of ingredients.”
“The program has been received positively. We have been interviewed by NBC News and Sirius XM to share the message of what it means to align your faith with your fork,” says Stevenson. “Social media has been key in spreading the word. People from other states want to be in the program.”
Now the Muslim community wants to have the program at the mosque in Washington, DC. So starting this Fall, “Food for the Soul: Faith-based Nutrition Series” is headed to Masjid Muhammad to teach how to build a body fit for Allah with halal foods.
After a summer sabbatical, Tambra Stevenson will regularly update DC FOOD JUSTICE. This fall she begins the Virginia Tech dietetic internship program. She also serves on the public policy committee for the DC Metro Area Dietetic Association. To follow her, visit her on Twitter.