By Emily Cornell, FEAST Intern and Master’s Candidate at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health
In January 2019, FEAST was awarded a grant from UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative to train 3 student leaders from the Public Health Nutrition Club and UCLA Green Ribbon Club to lead FEAST wellness programs. “While there are a lot of resources on campus that address hunger, there is limited campus programming that addresses behavioral change,” describes Zoe Womack, Co-President of the UCLA Public Nutrition Club. The FEAST group met weekly for 2 hours over 4 months. Each class includes a nutrition lesson, healthy cooking demonstrations, and group discussion to support participants in navigating a challenging food environment. At the end of each class, participants receive a “food scholarship” to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains so that they can make the healthy meals they learn in class at home.
All recipes taught in FEAST classes are designed to be quick, easy, and able to feed a family of four for $10 or less. “FEAST helped me realize that cooking doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be enjoyable and delicious even with just simple ingredients,” said one group member. After the recipe demonstration portion of class, is the “sharing circle” where a discussion topic is introduced to help individuals understand how their eating habits were developed. “I feel that FEAST allowed me to re-learn what it means to be healthy and forgive myself and work things out when it comes to emotional eating or my decisions to not eat healthy,” said another group member.
FEAST student leaders are hoping to raise more awareness about the importance of addressing hunger on campus to improve health, well-being, and academic performance among students. Given the success of the program in its inaugural year at UCLA, they hope to continue to offer the program in future years and encourage other campuses to join the fight for food security.
The UCLA Leaders were trained through FEAST’s Train-the-Trainer program. To learn more about FEAST’s ongoing training opportunities and bringing a FEAST program to your community, click here.