How Gilda Sion Used Fruits and Vegetables to Inspire Community Change
In the sterile, white corridor of a hospital is the last place that a mother wants to be with her son, but that’s exactly where Gilda Sion found herself after her eldest son, Pedro, was diagnosed with asthma.
The journey to raise a child with such a serious condition was an arduous one and while juggling family obligations and full-time employment, Gilda felt completely hopeless when she discovered that Pedro’s medication caused hyperactive behavior. In a time of such distress, Gilda turned to the one thing that she could control in order to help combat Pedro’s hyperactivity: her family’s diet. Without hesitation, she began modifying her family’s eating habits by reducing their sugar consumption and cooking more meals at home. Miraculously, after a few simple changes, Gilda noticed her son’s behavior was improving. Whereas mere months prior Gilda was receiving notices that her son was at risk of expulsion, after the dietary adjustments, Pedro proudly brought home a diploma with honors. With her family’s monumental improvement as a motivation, Gilda resolved to promote healthy eating and better nutrition in her community as well.
Gilda knew, however, that in order to make and inspire change in her community, she needed to learn more about nutrition. Not knowing what to expect, Gilda entered the warmly-lit downtown FEAST office and was greeted by friendly faces and a mountain of fresh produce. As an intern, Gilda assisted in the FEAST cooking classes and soon developed her own theories about the root causes of community problems. Believing that the past shapes one’s home environment, Gilda worked intimately with participants to help them overcome trauma and reverse toxic patterns. Quickly advancing to a full teacher position through her grit and determination, Gilda continued to empower other women to make healthy changes in their lives, regardless of past experiences.
Although the dietary changes that Gilda established at home yielded astounding results, her family did have some initial doubts about their new menu. In order to help them become more acquainted with unknown foods, Gilda invited her family to participate in FEAST wellness programs.
Now, anyone who enters the FEAST office will hear the delighted laughter of Hayley, Gilda’s ten-year old daughter who has learned to love kale. Knowing that Hayley will grow up with a comprehensive knowledge of fresh healthy foods and how to prepare them makes Gilda’s heart soar (although Hayley still doesn’t like nopales, which Gilda is working hard to change).
In the end, the most significant aspect of being a FEAST teacher is knowing that through her fragrant stir fries and crunchy summer salads, Gilda is helping to prevent diet-related disease in her family and her community. In her own words, “I feel seen by my community as a leader and am recognized by others because I am a teacher at FEAST.”
Even after participants leave the FEAST classes filled with laughter and heart-felt discussions, they continue to contact Gilda and tell her how FEAST has deeply impacted them. Knowing that she has created a long-lasting impact on the health and hearts of others, Gilda is proud to say, “If I can get healthy with four kids and a husband others can do it too!”