True to Lasallian values, La Salle University in North Philadelphia has continued its longstanding tradition in neighborhood outreach with its organization Exploring Nutrition. The group was founded four years ago, and has been fighting hunger in Olney ever since.
“How can we make life better for the people in our neighborhood?” asks Dr. Marjorie Allen. She heads the Exploring Nutrition Project (ENP), and argues that the problem with groups such as Pheed Philadelphia concerns where they direct their outreach. Her own team looks to better the area immediately surrounding the university.
A lofty set of goals sit before Allen and the ENP — educating the local neighborhood on healthy eating and nutrition, understanding the relationship between health and socioeconomic problems, and producing outreach through methods such as video and social media, to name a few. These seem vague and unspecific, but the ENP has had some success and continues to champion health and nutrition in Olney since its conception.
The group is in the process of creating a “food access map” that would allow local residents to see where they can purchase healthy foods at reasonable prices. It also works regularly with the Benilde kitchen in providing education on nutrition week in and week out.
The ENP understands that the struggle for health and nutrition is very real and widespread across those of all backgrounds, such as this homeless student who has turned to the Homeless Students Support Program after moving to the area from Houston. What’s more, the group is aware that the government may not always be around to help in its fight against hunger. With the ever-present threat of losing a very powerful ally, the ENP must look elsewhere for other sources of inspiration, such as this Detroit-based group that mixes the Christian faith with nutrition education for local neighborhoods.
With ideas such as “produce dollars” — vouchers to be used at local grocers by the less fortunate — and food mapping, Dr. Allen and her Exploring Nutrition Project have plenty of optimism despite their work being cut out for them.