Last month, Sunday Suppers, a decade-old Philadelphia food and nutrition program, became Nourish, a new meal kit delivery service run by New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC).
Nourish grew out of Sunday Suppers’ need to pivot in response to the pandemic, where holding in-person, weekly family meals was no longer viable.
“Through 2020, Jackie Saez [Nourish’s program manager] tried a variety of strategies with an eye towards maintaining Sunday Suppers’ vision and core values and providing healthy, affordable and delicious meals, interactive cooking lessons, nutrition and food access information, and a supportive community,” said Linda Samost, founder and former director of Sunday Suppers.
Throughout the process, Sarmost said Saez continuously spoke with families and community members to incorporate their ideas into what has become Nourish.
Nourish is now wrapping up its very first cohort.
“During this pilot phase we have been delivering meal kits to the participants’ homes and hosting online cooking and health education workshops via Zoom biweekly. On alternate weeks, we continued to distribute groceries and other basic needs to participants of the programs and other families who simply needed the basics to help them get through the pandemic,” said Saez.
Nourish is an eight-week food kit program with deliveries on Monday and workshops on Tuesday from 4 to 6 p.m. The organization will host multiple cohorts per year, and also convene an alumni support group.
Short term, Saez said they want to support families who had to adapt to a new lifestyle during the pandemic.
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Many families relied heavily on school breakfasts and lunches. “Having to prepare three or more meals a day while working and taking care of other household duties is a challenge. Many families say they don’t want to rely on processed foods and snacks but don’t have the capacity or money to prepare nourishing meals from whole foods to their families,” Saez said.
Nourish focuses on giving families the knowledge and skills they need to nourish themselves using the resources they provide or have access to. It also brings a meal kit delivery service similar to Hello Fresh or Blue Apron to a community that otherwise may not have access to it and lessens the burden of worrying about how and what to feed a family.
Long term, Saez thinks of Nourish as the missing piece to true health justice within the community. NKCDC already provides services around home ownership, rental assistance, affordable housing, small business support, community building, etc. Adding a sustainable approach to food security and nutrition is next.
Health Justice PHL defines health justice as “the collective movement to heal society and eliminate barriers that prevent individual and community wellbeing.”
As with all new projects, Saez said round one was not perfect.
“From surveying community members to assess their needs, to creating menus, purchasing food, packaging kits, delivering kits, and dealing with technology, we hit many bumps. We plan on taking some time to evaluate, reflect and put systems in place to ensure that we can provide the quality programming our community deserves,” she said.
The biggest challenge is making the program accessible to all.
“A household must have basic kitchen tools, a working stove, oven and refrigerator, and access to an online meeting platform. Though we surveyed people to find out if they were equipped, we had additional needs come up,” concluded Saez.
Nourish was able to supply some people with cooking materials and were even able to help one family pay off a new stove but Nourish would have to find additional resources to sustain that level of support going forward.-30-
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