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OneRouge Friday Community Check-In (Week 95)

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in EBR, The Walls Project has been hosting weekly video calls with leaders of nonprofits, foundations, city government, and local businesses from a

cross the parish. The intention of these weekly community check-ins is to share information and resources to help the Baton Rouge community respond and recover from the pandemic. Weekly topics range from access to basic needs such as food, medical care, and safety to thought-leaders' insights on equitable opportunities for youth enrichment, nonprofit financial solvency, surge in unemployment, and the disproportionate impact on impoverished neighborhoods in regards to accessing fresh food.


'Power of Balanced Eating & Exercise’

Meeting Notes Prepared by Samantha Morgan (Walls Project)

Jenni Peters (Owner, Varsity Sports Running)

  • Our specialty industry has had the best year we’ve had. Our main brand which is Brooks Running, had its best year ever. The message is, the one thing the pandemic did is people got outside.

  • More people are walking and running than ever before. I know a lot of you on this call did the same thing. During the lockdown, it was a catalyst. We couldn’t open our doors, but we were doing curbside, and I was meeting people I’ve never met before. It’s really been a good year. And that’s continuing. Baton Rouge is a really active city. It’s an engaged community. People who come here love it here. Baton Rouge is a lot more than people give it credit for. When I can shout that out, I’ll shout that out.

  • When we’re talking about mental health, you don’t have to be a runner, any movement is good movement. Just get out there and do something. 20 minutes can clear your mind. Where do you be active in Baton Rouge and there’s a lot of best kept secrets. The Webb park area is phenomenal to walk in. There’s paths all over. There’s a new cap trail between Pollard Estates and Quail Drive. We use it all the time. You can essentially get from Essen Lane all the way to the lakes because of that trail. It’s beautiful. One of our favorite runs on Saturday is from the Main Street Market. We go around the capitol and on the levee and it’s beautiful.

  • People just need to get out there and get involved. Another interesting story about the pandemic, someone joined our running group and then two years later she was highlighted in NPR about how somebody coped with the pandemic. She went from “I’m not a runner” to being accepted into the Boston Marathon. Get involved with a running group. It’s a good way to engage with people. Just get out there and get involved.

Sarah Broekhoven (Director of Nutrition and Community Engagement, YMCA)

  • I’m a registered dietitian. A lot of people don’t really know what a dietitian does. In my schooling, you’re trained in three areas, food service, community and clinical nutrition. A lot of people don’t know we have a background in those things. We can do a variety of things from working in a hospital toa grocery store. We can talk about diabetes to heart disease to talking about making better choices in a grocery store. Getting out in the community and talking about food nutrition and educating people. We have a very wide scope. I have a lot of knowledge about a lot of random things.

  • I was hired at the Y in Feb. 0f 2021. They never had a dietitian on staff. It’s a lot of creativity at times. In everything we do, I want people to focus on progress not perfection. The Y does a lot of food shares. Giving food to the community. I always like to show that we have progress. So the first one we did, the food was fairly good, but there were improvements that could be made. The second time I was focused on food safety. And then we had another around thanksgiving and I helped to curate that box and I wanted to focus on fresh produce and vegetables. I think a lot of time we’re given non-perishable items. So I wanted to make sure they boosted their thanksgiving meal. We’re always working for progress.

  • The second project I was thrown into is the American Heart cooking demos. American Heart comes to the Y and helps us do cooking demos, mainly in north baton rouge. We’re really working to target low income so we’re maximizing our effort. One of the first things I noticed is a lot of our population should be mindful of heart disease but a lot are diabetic. We were very mindful of the diabetic meal plan.

  • The third project was summer feeding. There were a lot of kids coming to our summer camps who were bringing their own meals that were not healthy. The fruit that was coming was bananas and oranges and they were getting sick of that, so we have to make sure that the food they’re being served is something they’re going to eat. That’s why I started to do cooking demos at the camp. I did about 4 demos. At the start, they didn’t know who I was, by the end they were yelling, “that’s the spice lady.” One girl who was diabetic, I showed her how to make salsa, and she told her mom. Very recently I was the leader of a healthy lifestyle improvement group.

  • On Facebook we had 240 members. WE came together and shared recipes, people started to get to know each other and work together. We just want to get engaged. I also do individual counseling. We spend a lot of time talking and getting to know each other.

  • Three nutrition tips: 1) plan for your meal before you get to that meal. 2) Balance. Fill half with fruits and vegetables, 1 quarter grains and 1 quarter lean protein, 3) Make progress not perfection. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

Kelli Rogers (Program Director, Healthy BR | Geaux Get Healthy)

  • We help fund the work Chelsea and the American Heart association do at the YMCA and Top Boxes work in Baton Rouge. We meet once a week to figure out what everyone else is doing. I want to talk from the standpoint of food insecurity and how it affects mental health. I started at HOPE ministries in 2005 and was involved with their food pantry a lot of time. Charitable food has some limitations in terms of stigma and in terms of people making their own food choices and culturally appropriate food choices. A lot of the food we make available in charitable situations it’s not appropriate to what people actually eat. IT’s important to move to more food autonomy.

  • This quote came from the Utah Food Bank’s website. It’s from a young mother, “After we brought our baby home, I remember feeling so much fear when breastfeeding didn’t start well, because we didn’t have enough money to buy formula. I felt like I was fighting so hard to feel like we were okay that I didn’t have any space left for joy.” I thought that was really important in terms of mental healthy and how the inability to provide food for your family does impact your family’s life. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that mothers of school age children who face severe hunger are 56% more likely to have PTSD and 53% more likely to have severe depression. And that the odds of behavioral problems among children with food insecure mothers are double those among children with food secure mothers. Think about how much mental health issues are not just a result of food insecurity but also drive food insecurity. Even things like ADHD and anxiety prevent people from effectively access the resources that’s available to them.

  • To recap Geaux Get Healthy, we serve 7 zip codes that make up north Baton Rouge. The work of our partner agencies is so important. We work with Baton Roots and Top Box to BREDA, to make sure people have pathways to affordable fresh food. Also the really important work that the YMCA is doing and our partners at the American Heart Association with research to support those efforts.

Chelsea Morgan (Community Impact Director, American Heart Association)

  • Everything that the Heart Association does is based in science. Literally the things I put in the community I have to check with our science team before I put it in the community. We’ve funded 14 Nobel prize winners. We check everything with our science. What I wanted to share with you is not only on that bigger level is based on research but what are we doing in a community and what you can do on an individual level. True health is good sleep, managing mindfulness and reducing stress. This past November we have scientific sessions the heart association put out new guidance around dietary patterns. We have 10 tips we suggest people to do to show that the nutrition we’re doing can be done anywhere. Even if we eat less salt, eat more vegetables, really how can you integrate in your everyday life, even if you go to a restaurant. What the heart association promotes is healthy for good, is that lifestyle changes that you can make together to have a healthy life together for yourself and the community. Eat smart, move more, be well.

  • We have really tried to meet people where they are, and that’s what Geaux Get Healthy does. I was preaching this to everybody, but I didn't understand it myself. I had no idea I had high cholesterol and high blood pressure. I had a family history. It’s important to understand your own heart health. We have testimonials from people who have shared that they have been able to get off medications. We’re Well is part of Geaux Get Healthy, but it’s focused on kids and after school programs. We also partner to do family fitness rocks once a month. Every month we do a different physical activity. And we really try to make sure it serves everybody. We have a grant open that is due next Friday that is focused on food access and governance. If you get that application in, you will get that money as soon as April.

American Heart Association - 'Power of Balanced Eating & Exercise’

PREFACE: Everything we do is based in science. We are the second largest funder our research after the government. We’ve funded 14 Noble Prize winners.

Eating right and being active top our to-do list. True health also includes getting good sleep, practicing mindfulness, managing stress, keeping mind and body fit and connecting socially. “Balance” is the latest word on heart-healthy eating, according to a new report that encourages people to adapt broad eating habits instead of focusing on single foods — and it’s not one size fits all.

The statement details 10 features of a dietary pattern to promote heart health:

  1. Balance food and calorie intake with physical activity to maintain a healthy weight.

  2. Choose a wide variety and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to get a full range of nutrients from food rather than supplements;

  3. Choose whole grains and other foods made up mostly of whole grains;

  4. Include healthy sources of lean and/or high-fiber protein such as plant proteins (nuts and legumes), fish or seafood, low fat or non-fat dairy, lean cuts of meat and limit red and processed meats;

  5. Use liquid non-tropical plant oils such as olive or sunflower oils;

  6. Choose minimally processed foods rather than ultra-processed foods as much as possible;

  7. Minimize intake of beverages and foods with added sugars;

  8. Choose or prepare foods with little or no salt;

  9. Limit alcohol consumption; if you don’t drink, do not start; and

  10. Apply this guidance no matter where food is prepared or consumed.

Healthy eating starts with healthy food choices. You don’t need to be a chef to create nutritious, heart-healthy meals your family will love. Learn what to look for at the grocery store, restaurants, your workplace and any eating occasion.

Healthy for Good is a healthy living movement to inspire lasting change in your health and your life, one small step at a time. The approach is simple: Eat smart. Move more. Be well. If you are a visual learner, check out all the infographics here.

As an individual, you can utilize My Life Check to get your “heart health score” and get a personalized plan for you. This helps people assess and track their heart health information and gain a better understanding of their risk of heart disease and stroke.

Work in the BR Community:

AHA provides community wellness and nutrition education with Geaux Get Healthy and all of its partners. Healthy for Life® is an evidence-based community nutrition program empowers people to make healthy food, nutrition and lifestyle choices. Improvement in key health behaviors is based on the implementation model. The evaluation suggests a minimum of 4 educational experiences within 2-3 months is recommended to ensure behavior change. The program is now included in the SNAP-Ed Toolkit in addition to the SNAP-ED library.

Other work:

  • We’re Well

    • Led by Healthy BR and Geaux Get Healthy. This after school program partners with Big Buddy to provide education by Healthcare Centers in Schools, I-CARE and AHA to teach 5210+10 and holistic healthy whole child approach.

      • 5 fruits and vegetables

      • 2 hours of screen time

      • 1 hour of physical activity

      • 0 sugary drinks

      • 10 hours of sleep

  • Family Fitness Rocks

    • Keep moving with this free monthly fitness class, hosted by Healthy BR. Over the last year, our trainers have been providing this virtually. We are back in action and added more. By day, you can find these instructors in the community providing education and preventive care through American Heart Association, Our Lady of the Lake Children's Health and I-CARE. By night, they can be found in the dance studio, with BREC on the Geaux, YMCA of the Capital Area or at home teaching virtually through Curvy Girl Dance & Fitness, Training with Adrian B., and RAVE Performing Arts Company. After the 30-minute workout, stay for a cooking demonstration led by AHA alongside YMCA’s registered dietician and a chance to learn more from all of the community partners.

IMPORTANT Announcements:

  • Voices For Healthy Kids Grant – details provided in the calendar notice reminder

American Heart Association is looking to fund four community organizations focused on food access or equity in governance. It is up to $100,000 to pass a local policy through the school board, metro council or executive order by the Mayor with the East Baton Rouge Advocacy Impact Pilot grant. Applications are now due March 11th!

  • Workplace Wellness Webinar - March 9th at 11am

How can your company battle burnout? What impact is The Great Resignation going to have long term? Join us for a discussion on helping employees facing burnout and to how to manage impacts from a time of large turnover. Register Here:


Can you speak on the resources out there for people to get moving that have disabilities and visible illness?

We do provide modifications for local opportunities we provide. I will encourage you to look up deskercise. It’s any movement that can be done in a chair. Woman’s hospital is great at promoting that. Check in with your doctor.

Sometimes movement is both the cause and the cure. If there are suggestions on how they can still be active even as they manage the pain. Maybe if there are tips for ways we can share with people in our families about being more active with pain or chronic illness.

If you can stay active with arthritis, it’s been shown to help reduce the pain of arthritis. Picking the right pair of shoes.

At the YMCA, we have hundreds of people who participate in our water exercise programs and AC Lewis has warm water pools.

Sarah Broekhoven - it’s hard to meet people where they’re at. I would say, the first thing is to figure out where people are. Second, use social media. Culturally sensitive, as a dietitian, I always want to hear what the preferences are. Encourage people to speak up as to what their preferences are. If you don’t speak up, they don’t know. Speak about your cultural preferences.

I am really interested in what Rev Anderson asked- how can we connect this work to carceral systems in BR as well as seniors who are falling into the gaps in the system?

Kelli Rogers - As far as seniors are concerned, we are specifically focused on seniors. Trying to bring those programs to where people are already gathering. The carceral system, I have had this idea for years, if courts can mandate community service, they could mandate yoga classes. I think that would be a much bigger benefit coming out of the carceral system.

Elizabeth Shephard - Over the years we had this massive shift. When I was younger it was to avoid fats. Historically we’ve seen how businesses will drive health agendas (smoking, sugars, etc), we base our information on science, but science is based on corporate interest. How do we know what’s really real? How do we know what’s healthy? Are there any organizations helping the health industry be more transparent?

Sarah Broekhoven - It's a tough and important question. Be mindful of who is funding the research study.

Christian Engle - I always try to counsel people that it’s about doing what’s right for you. Avoid the word diet. It’s about eating better and well. The harder part is the visual aspect. It’s really about what is the comfortable place for you. There are skinny unhealthy people and there are overweight healthy people. It's about finding what works for you. If you ever use the words I am back on, then you haven’t found the plan that is doing you justice. Most dieticians are going to teach you healthy habits and not how to diet.

One of my favorite Michael Pollen quotes: If it’s grown on a plant, eat it. If it’s made in a plant, don’t.

Pepper Roussel - I really appreciate everyone’s willingness to be culturally sensitive because we can create additional issues around what food is acceptable even inadvertently. I saw a TedTalk with Chimamanda Adichie where she talked about how she grew up reading stories where the main character ate apples and she lamented that all she had were mangoes. We can all agree that fruit grown on trees where we are is generally a healthy option. If we elevate non-regional “healthy” foods over locally grown and sourced, culturally appropriate food stuff we create other problems … like stress on the environment with food miles to deliver these other foods to us. I would also like to say that with folks emigrating to the area, we can easily make them feel unwelcome because their traditional foods are not the “ideal” – we can “yuck their yum” [a paraphrase]

Rev. Anderson - I wanted to point out a couple things. While we talk about how important these topics are, in our schools we don’t prioritize starting with physical fitness. That there are issues in this community with health needs. To identify and build out nutrition plans for those special needs plans. We have all sorts of medical issues for which diet is also part of the healing process. Everything we do is about food here. Everybody ate their way through Mardi Gras, everybody is going to either their way through festival season. When my son graduated from high school, we thought we had deseasoned our food, and they were dying. How do we move towards a healthier lifestyle and acknowledge that we have to eat.

Sarah Broekhoven - I have so many people say they cut out sugar, but then I look at their diet and I see that they are just not eating added sugar. Reading nutrition labels is so important. Make sure you’re looking at the serving per container, then check in with the calories, then if you go to the middle, that’s sodium, no more than 500 milligrams per meal. Less is better. Salt - zero is best. 5 or less is a good thing. Choose whole foods. Be mindful. Make better choices.

Emily Chatelain - We should all raise our voices loudly and show what other places are doing. There are many schools out there doing a lot around health and nutrition and I don’t see why Baton Rouge can’t champion.

Chelsea Morgan- We do collaborate with Pennington and fund research that’s happening at Pennington and HBCU scholars. We have a mentorship between researches and students at Southern, because representation matters, especially in research. We really want to make sure that we are investing in our future leaders and our future doctors.

Rinaldi Jacobs - Build Baton Rouge is working on building an incubator in north baton rouge, but I think what we should talk about is the community caterers. These are people who sell plate lunches to working families. Maybe making sure they prepare a little less salt and things. Geaux bikes has well over 250 people out riding bikes. Let’s get back into our disinvested communities. Let’s start making nutritional investments in those communities.

How much is neurotypical behavior is understood in food health? I know ADHD and Autism can cause barriers to eating correctly. Hyperfixation on certain foods, severe distaste for others. I have a lot of this in my family and for example my son will starve rather than eat healthy foods and then go binge late at night. Only saving grace is his metabolism.

Sarah Broekhoven - As far as nutritional guidance, nothing on the top of my head. There are probably things that you can do. But what I do know is mainly it’s the behaviors around food. People who are autistic, who have problems with textures, it just takes a lot of time and patience. You have to be mindful of what’s working. It’s a lot of little steps. It’s a little tricky. People aren’t aware of it as well.


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