Nutrition Workshop Well-Received by Refugee Community
The IRC in Seattle has once again partnered with Neighborcare Health to provide quality health education to newly arrived refugees. Neighborcare is the largest provider of primary medical and dental care for low income and uninsured families in the Seattle area.
In January, Heather Marshburn-Eliason, a dietician with the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program came to the IRC office and taught an informative workshop to a room packed full of refugee parents. Workshop participants went home with valuable nutrition information, complete with plenty of pictures. Participants learned a variety of tips including how to pick out low-sodium soy sauce, what milk is best for each age group, how to select whole grain foods, and the sugar content of soda.
Heather stressed the importance of eating meals which include all food groups and participants had the opportunity to practice planning balanced meals. Refugees were reminded that milk needs to go in the refrigerator – an important fact that needs emphasized since many refugees have not had access to refrigeration before arriving in the United States. Many refugees, especially Somali and Nepali refugees, are accustomed to receiving their food from distribution sites in refugee camps and aren’t used to selecting their own foods. Therefore, many participants requested information about how to make healthy choices as they learn to grocery shop for themselves and their families. Many newly arrived refugees have never had to distinguish between healthy food and junk food. As a result, many refugee families end up purchasing soda and other unhealthy treats because it is the first time such foods have been available to them.
IRC staff members and representatives from Neighborcare were happy to see so much enthusiasm for the workshop and Heather was especially impressed by the questions participants asked. The large turnout indicates that there is a lot of interest in the refugee community for nutrition education. The IRC will continue to develop workshops on this topic for the future.
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