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let's move faith and communities

A Reflection: Celebrating Eight Years of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships

Looking back at USDA’s efforts to help rural America thrive, I am truly proud of the impact our diverse partners, both from faith and secular communities, have had within their communities. On behalf of the USDA Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, I would like to say thank you to our partners these past eight years as well as reflect on a few notable highlights of the work we have achieved together.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans every day, whether they realize it or not. While our programs to reduce food insecurity are well known, our nation’s most vulnerable citizens can still be hard to reach. Faith-based and community partners have been especially helpful in this area, particularly when it comes to feeding children in summer months, when school is out of session. In collaboration with many partners, including Catholic Charities USA, the Church of God in Christ, Islamic Relief USA, the National Baptist Convention and the Salvation Army, USDA increased the number of summer meals served to kids by 16% between 2009 and 2015, a total of more than 1.2 billion summer meals served when school is out and food is scarce.

Un Lugar en la Mesa para Promotoras

Imagínese que usted va al supermercado y lo reciben justo fuera de la tienda con una mesa llena de consejos sobre alimentos saludables para su familia, tomando en cuenta un presupuesto limitado - en su idioma. Esto es sólo una manera en que los trabajadores de salud comunitaria de la organización no lucrativa La Clínica de Pueblo en la capital del país están promoviendo la salud y la nutrición en la comunidad de habla hispana, parte de su iniciativa llamada “Tu salud en tus manos, La Mesa de las Delicias”.

A lo largo de todo el país, los trabajadores de salud comunitaria, conocidos en español como "promotoras” y “promotores”, están encontrando maneras innovadoras, basadas en la comunidad, y eficaces para ofrecer educación nutricional a las comunidades latinas que a menudo no tienen acceso a servicios de salud tradicionales.

A Place at the Table for Promotoras

Imagine going to the supermarket and being greeted right outside the store with a table full of healthy eating tips for your family, on a budget – in your language. That is just one way community health workers from the nonprofit La Clinica de Pueblo in the nation’s capital are promoting health and nutrition in the Spanish-speaking community, part of their initiative called “Your Health in Your Hands, The Table of Delights.”

All throughout the country, community health workers, known in Spanish as “promotoras” and “promotores”, are finding innovative, grassroots and effective ways to offer nutrition education to Latino communities that often do not have access to traditional healthcare services.

No Más Hambre: A Community Call to Action

The NO MAS HAMBRE Summit recently held in Washington DC to raise awareness of hunger in the Latino community brought together government, nonprofit, corporate and community leaders to talk about solutions to an endemic problem that often goes unnoticed -- nearly one in three Latino households with children faces hunger in this country.

At the same time, Latinos are disproportionately impacted by higher rates of childhood obesity, with almost 40 percent of Latino children overweight or obese.  This paradox of malnutrition and obesity is often misunderstood, so I was glad to moderate a panel at the conference on how faith-based organizations are partnering with USDA’s initiative La Mesa Completa and as part of Let’s Move Faith and Communities to address hunger and promote healthier communities.

North Carolina Faith Communities Eat Smart and Move More


Let’s Move Faith and Communities challenges congregations and communities to make health a priority through wellness leadership implemented in three steps: lead, organize, and take action. Fifty North Carolina faith communities are doing just that through their partnership with Faithful Families Eating Smart and Moving More.

Communities on the Move Video Challenge Winners Announced

Cross posted from the Let's Move! blog:

The winners of the Communities on the Move Video Challenge have been chosen!  Since First Lady Michelle Obama announced the Video Challenge in February, Let’s Move Faith and Communities has been inspired by every congregation and community that submitted a video highlighting how they are promoting healthy lifestyles for kids.  From putting on nutrition-themed puppet shows in Connecticut to advocating for safer play spaces in Colorado and preaching healthy living from the pulpit in Florida, the ideas in these videos demonstrate the commitment that communities across the country have to reversing the trend of childhood obesity within a generation.

The Video Challenge encouraged faith-based and neighborhood organizations to create one-to-three minute videos highlighting the work they are doing to make their communities or congregations places of wellness. The challenge recognized efforts that promote healthy lifestyles for kids in three areas: encouraging nutritious eating through USDA’s MyPlate icon, increasing physical activity, and ensuring access to healthy, affordable foods. The winners and honorable mentions will be invited to Washington, D.C. for a Let’s Move! event.

Being All You Can Bean with Goya

Goya, the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the United States, is part of the First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! movement to empower parents to make healthy choices for themselves and their families.  It is partnering with USDA’s new icon, MyPlate/MiPlato, that reminds consumers to build healthy plates at meal times.  As a national strategic partner, Goya is promoting the messages that support MyPlate and MiPlato to educate and encourage families to consume a well-balanced diet.  By teaming up with Let’s Move! and USDA, Goya has committed to provide people with several tools to improve their health.

In support of the First Lady’s initiative, Goya created an army of resources to help fight childhood obesity.  Goya has produced a brochure in both English and Spanish with six healthy recipes, ten tips on how to create a well-balanced plate, and a coupon for low sodium beans is being distributed to several Let’s Move Faith and Communities partners around the country.  Dr. Luz Myriam Neira, Director of Nutrition at the San Antonio Food Bank, said “the booklets were so well received by SNAP/Ed participants” that she will be using an electronic version of the booklet, sans coupon, to meet the demand for helpful recipes and tips. They are also working with a local grocery chain using these materials in their nutrition education efforts.  

Together We Can: Webinar Series for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

Last week, USDA’s Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships led a webinar to share with local faith and community leaders opportunities to partner with USDA to help those in need in their communities.  This webinar was the first in a series entitled, Together We Can.  The series aims to equip organizations with introductory knowledge, best practices, and contact information to help community-based organizations understand and access USDA programs.

Salsa, Sabor y Salud: MiPlato Celebrates the Strengths of Latino Traditions

How are you celebrating National Nutrition Month? An easy way to incorporate great nutrition every day is to make MyPlate your plate. You can do that at your own dining table, and you can also help others do so, as well. People across the country have been doing that for a long time by using the plate method to educate kids about building healthy, fun plates that celebrate America’s many cultures and communities.

For example, Salsa, Sabor y Salud has been teaching elementary students about healthy plates since 2002. It is a bilingual nutrition education program created by the non-profit National Latino Children’s Institute (NLCI).  Using USDA’s “My Pyramid,” the program created “El Plato Saludable” (“The Healthy Plate”) to teach students each food group. Through this innovative program, more than 35,000 Latinos in 28 states and Puerto Rico participated in nutrition education classes over the past decade.  Last year, NLCI partnered with the YMCA in order to expand nutrition education classes to 90 YMCAs across the country. This year, NCLI plans to expand their nutrition education classes into 40 more YMCAs.

How is your Community Moving? Send us a Video!

Last Saturday, First Lady Michelle Obama announced the Communities on the Move Video challenge and invited faith-based, community, and other non-profit organizations to create inspiring videos about their efforts to reverse the trend of childhood obesity. The challenge will recognize community efforts that promote healthy lifestyles for kids by encouraging nutritious eating through USDA’s MyPlate icon, increasing physical activity, and/or ensuring access to healthy, affordable foods.

“America’s faith communities play a crucial role in guiding and strengthening not only our spiritual health, but our emotional and physical health as well,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “Over the past two years, I’ve been inspired by all of the faith leaders and congregations who have taken action to get active and eat healthier, and so we’re launching our Let’s Move! video contest to highlight some of the best examples.  I know there’s so much incredible work being done – and I can’t wait to hear some of these stories first-hand at the White House.”