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Spaces of Opportunity Garden 067

Homegrown

Health officials across the country face a challenging question— how do you help the sickest and neediest patients get healthier? Esperança’s work in the Phoenix Latino community models a promising approach to address this issue.    Esperança’s work in Phoenix provides Promotores (Community Health Workers) opportunities to exchange information, share best practices and build skills. Salud con Sabor Latino (Health with a Latin Flavor) works to connect a network of Promotores and expand leadership opportunities for community members. This increases our capacity to make a difference in local communities! The use of Promotores has long been known as an effective way to bring information to community members who lack knowledge of healthy practices through the help of other, trusted community leaders.  By providing education for parents and children, Esperança is creating awareness about fitness and healthy eating habits for the whole family. Salud con Sabor Latino utilizes innovative and effective teaching methods with hands on learning, physical activity and community gardening. Spaces of Opportunity Garden 029 Esperança is empowering Promotores to inform and unite their neighbors. This provides an opportunity for community leaders to have their voices heard and to participate in shaping the topics taught in Salud con Sabor Latino sessions. It includes the issues that are meaningful to them. By being from the community, speaking their language, and having shared life experiences, Promotores are able to break down barriers that health care providers alone simply cannot. Juanita is a Promotora with Padres Promotores of Southwest Behavioral Health and Unlimited Potential. She graduated from Salud con Sabor Latino and is co-teaching the Salud con Sabor Latino 2016 summer session. Unlimited Potential purchased a plot of land at Spaces of Opportunity, a community garden established by TigerMountain Foundation in South Phoenix. Community Gardening gives families access to more fruits and vegetables to build a balanced diet, it adds more color to their neighborhoods  and their plates, it saves them money at the grocery store, it increases their physical activity AND it gives families something to do together. Spaces of Opportunity Garden 083   At Spaces of Opportunity, various agencies and community groups are growing fresh produce for a variety of purposes, including family and neighborhood consumption, day care centers, senior centers, and sales to local food banks, community health centers, local restaurants and markets. Promotores invited all of the participants of the Salud con Sabor Latino and Salud con Sabor Latino para los Niños (Health with a Latin Flavor for Children) summer sessions to bring their families to the community work day at Spaces of Opportunity on June 11th. We arrived at 9 AM, it was already HOT and everyone was ready to get their hands dirty! Groups from all over Phoenix came together for the community work day. Together we pulled weeds, planted seeds and harvested several vegetables that represent the phytonutrient spectrum, including squash, carrots, beets and bell peppers that the families took home with them. There is a lot of talk about making sure all of the foods we eat represent the colors in a rainbow.  What does this mean?  Why should I do that?  According to Julie Kurtz, Registered Dietitian, the majority of Americans eat a “brown, yellow, and white diet”.  Instead of a lackluster, colorless plate, try to sample all of the colors of the palette including red, orange, yellow, green, and purple.  This is important as you need to ensure that you are receiving all of the phytochemicals your body needs.  Phytochemicals are all of the good nutrients that naturally occur in plants.   FoodRainbow   “We are indeed much more than what we eat, but what we eat can nonetheless help us to be much more than what we are…”  Adelle Davis       As we think about the colors of the rainbow, we should be inspired by better food selections! Looking at the vegetables that were harvested this month made me think about one of my favorite recipes…Smoky Farro and Chickpea Soup! The Earthy chard, nutty farro, and creamy chickpeas are a trifecta of deliciousness.    

Smoky Farro and Chickpea Soup

The hearty one pot meal couldn’t be easier and makes for a simple cleanup.

You can look for pouches of precooked farro either in the grain aisle or in the frozen section of your supermarket.

Hands-on: 15 min. Total: 25 min.

2 tbsp olive oil 2 cups finely chopped onion ½ cup finely chopped celery ½ cup chopped fresh parsley 1tsp chopped fresh rosemary 2 garlic cloves, chopped 1 bay leaf 3 cups vegetable broth 3 cups water 1-1/2 tsp Spanish smoked paprika ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper ¼ tsp kosher salt 1 (15 ounce) can unsalted chickpeas, rinsed, drained 1 (14.5 ounce) can unsalted, fire roasted diced tomatoes 4 cups chard 3 cups cooked farro ½ cup chopped green onions 1.5 ounces parmesan cheese   1. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and next five ingredients (through bay leaf). Cook seven minutes or until onion is tender, stirring frequently. Stir in broth and next six ingredients (through tomatoes); bring to boil. Stir in Chard and farro; cook two minutes or until chard wilts. Stir in green onions; top with cheese.
Brenda and Anna (pictured center) with one focus group

¡Agua es vida!

Water is life -- the phrase echoes through the four communities where Anna Ortiz and Brenda Trejo are conducting water analyses. As interns sponsored by HealthWorks Collaborative, Anna and Brenda are working with Esperança’s nonprofit partner AVODEC to add strength to Esperança’s water and sanitation efforts in Nicaragua.   Brenda and Anna have been in Nicaragua for the last four weeks, traveling to remote communities to conduct focus groups with the Water and Sanitation Committee members who are residents of their community and are responsible for the installation and management of the water systems. They want to hear what the committee and other community members have to say about the quality of their water. Brenda and Anna expected to have difficulty breaking into the close-knit communities as outsiders but shared that they have been warmly welcomed in each focus group and that attendance has far exceeded expectations because AVODEC is a such a strong component of the community. “Having a strong community partner makes all the difference”, Anna shared.   Anna and Brenda Brenda is passionate about global environmental health and especially passionate about reducing human exposure to contaminated drinking water; she is pursuing a Master’s in Public Health at George Washington University. Brenda is conducting water quality analyses to determine if there are hazardous elements in the drinking water in the villages that have built water systems, thanks to your support of Esperança! She will check for pollutants like metals and bacteria and report back to community members to help ensure the safest practices of treating drinking water are in place and to develop health education campaigns for community members to teach to other villages.   Anna has been dedicated to international relief efforts through her service in the Peace Corps and in her two and a half years serving as Surgical Program Coordinator of Esperança. Anna left Esperança to pursue her Master’s in Public Health at University of Arizona. Through her understanding of the importance of the work that Esperança does for vulnerable communities, she came back to intern with us and will be developing an evaluation framework for water projects. She will provide a measuring tool to use for every water system Esperança’s builds. This tool will help Esperança and AVODEC know what works and what needs improvement.  It will help us measure important indicators such as trends in water-borne illnesses amongst children and adults, whether residents are satisfied with the water systems, the quality of the water and its distribution.  The answers to these questions will help us build even better water systems in the future.   Esperança eagerly awaits Anna and Brenda’s research results to start making improvements in the water systems and in the lives of community members by next January, which is when construction of new water systems will commence.  Thank you Anna and Brenda, HealthWorks Collaborative and AVODEC for making this important research happen! IMG_9148

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