Hunger Is Not a Disease

JSY…What’s that? Nutritionist Education!

Although we see her only once  a month, everyone knows when she’s coming and they gather in the Community Room at  Woodstock Commons early to be sure a get a good spot for her presentation.  Amy is one of the pantry’s favorite people.

So, who is  Amy Robillard and what makes her so fancy anyway?

Amy is the Just Say Yes nutritionist from the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley of New York State.

Food pantries, soup kitchens, and emergency shelters,  through the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley offers nutritionist education, a service to our shoppers: a nutritionist who gives talks along with cooking  demonstrations to the shoppers.

Although some people feel like this is a luxury that poverty stricken people shouldn’t have, I feel strongly that the food pantry nutritionist education is a necessity, not a luxury.  Amy gives classes in cooking and serving fruits and vegetables.  Very often the shoppers in the pantry line take home foods that they’ve never seen before, do not know the name of, and have no idea how to prepare and eat.

Amy teaches simple and affordable ways to eat more fruits and vegetables.  She makes learning about nutrition and food safety both fun and easy to understand.  Amy has a series of 11 different lessons that she shares over the course of a year.  During this time, she will share over 100 different recipes which are low cost, easy to prepare, and delicious.

With Amy’s information, nutritionist education, and encouraging attitude, the shoppers take new foods home with them each week which they feed to their families.  This is an important part of the pantry shopping experience.

Often, the new shopper has lived on less than 10 foods for his/her entire life.  It is not unheard of to speak to people who have lived on beans, bread, and greens their entire lives.

To visit with a shopper after a year of shopping in the pantry is to interact with a totally new person.  The experienced pantry shopper knows much about foods:

their nutritional value

their origin

how to prepare them.

We  begin to notice changes in a pantry shopper within 6 weeks of the first visit.  The very first changes we see are a straighter back, a more confident walk, clearer skin, smiles.  People look better, walk better, and interact better socially when they are no longer afraid of living with hunger.

Amy helps facilitate this.  She teaches them how to cook with pantry food.  She makes them feel at ease at the  pantry.  She normalizes a hidden, stressful experience as she removes the negativity. .

I wish all pantries had a nutritionist on board.

Reservoir Food Pantry is happy to have Amy come visit whenever she can.  We’re grateful to be on her schedule.

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Peace and food for all.

Thurman Greco