Initial funding for Food Equity for Healthy Latino Families, a two year project, is provided by Meyer Memorial Trust ($123,600 over two years) and Spirit Mountain Community Foundation ($15,000 for the first year). Familias en Acción (Familias), in collaboration with the OHSU Bob and Charlee Moore Institute for Nutrition & Wellness, will develop a research-based, culturally and linguistically specific curriculum to build Latino community knowledge and advocacy skills about food justice and family health. The project will focus on nutrition as a foundation for strengthening the health of Latino families and communities. Additional funding is still being requested.
Poverty and risks for chronic diseases are linked. In Oregon, over one-quarter of Latinos and over one-third of Latino children live in poverty. Currently Latinos are experiencing an epidemic of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. In the U.S., two out of every three Latinos are overweight or obese, and since 1998, the rates of Type 2 diabetes have doubled among this population. Among Latino children ages six to 11, one in four are obese.
Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) research has demonstrated the lifelong impact of good nutrition during the first thousand days, from conception to about age two, in preventing obesity and chronic disease risk. Poor prenatal nutrition increases risk of acquiring chronic diseases in offspring as they become adults; and yet, Latinas in Oregon receive less prenatal care than non-Hispanic white women. Our project, in collaboration with the OHSU Moore Institute, responds to an urgent need to build advocacy and knowledge for Latinos about the link between social inequities and poor health. Current public health educational programs often focus on individual responsibility for nutrition and healthy families. However, equally important are the development of equitable public policies to improve social, physical and economic environments for healthy Latino families.
Food Equity for Healthy Latino Families differs from traditional nutritional programs because it addresses the root causes of health inequities. The curriculum will enhance knowledge of the role of the community environment in the availability of appropriate nutrition and level of social stress experienced prior to and during pregnancy. Participants will build their knowledge about the health impacts of poverty, racial discrimination, social disadvantages, and overall toxic stress on themselves and their children. Self-advocacy skills in food justice will build self-sufficiency for participants. Leadership development will take place through participation at a Community Council and community leaders training to implement the curriculum into Latino communities throughout Oregon.