Winter Greens for Those in Need

Sara DavidsonIf people eat better, they will be healthier.

It’s a pretty simple idea, but not so easily implemented, found Sara Davidson ’16.

The public health major completed a practicum at Pacific University’s B Street farm, where she helped harvest food and deliver it to donation sites, including the local St. Vincent de Paul food pantry.

That’s where she realized that fresh fruits and vegetables — already short in supply in food pantries — are almost nonexistent in the winter. And that B Street could help.

“B Street has greenhouses, so I thought, there’s a connection,” Davidson said.

For her senior thesis in public health, Davidson developed a plan to help update policies and expand support at the St. Vincent de Paul food pantry.

Part of it involved growing additional winter vegetables at B Street and supplying them to clients at the food pantry.

But that’s only the beginning.

“Even when low-income individuals are given access to fresh fruits and vegetables, they don’t necessarily take it,” she said. “People usually choose quantity over quality, which makes sense if you’re trying to feed your family.”

She suggested a rating system for foods based on their nutritional value and a reorganization so that clients at the food pantry were able to receive more “category 1” healthy foods than “category 3” foods.

She also suggested implementing cooking classes, which some other food banks already offer, to help people make better use of the healthy foods available.

Such small steps, she said, could have a big impact.

“Increasing fruits and vegetables can lead to better food choices and reduce the risk of diet-related chronic diseases,” she said.

Thursday, April 28, 2016