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Paving the Way to Cooking More Healthy Meals at Home

Pennington Biomedical Dietitians Roll into 12 Low-Income Baton Rouge Neighborhoods with Free Fruits and Vegetables, Cooking Classes and Health Screenings
Released: Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Baton Rouge, Louisiana — Boiled crawfish. Shrimp etouffee. Jambalaya. Gumbo. Po’boys. Beignets. Creme Brulee. Doberge cake. Bread pudding.

While Louisiana is famous for its rich food, the same can’t be said for the health of its residents. Many families struggle to incorporate enough fruits and vegetables into their diets. One study shows less than 6 percent of Louisiana’s children eat the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables. Scientists at LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center hope a new program called The Rolling Store can help change that for residents of a dozen Baton Rouge-area neighborhoods.

"One frequently cited barrier to incorporating fruits and vegetables – a key to good health – into our daily lives is not knowing how to cook vegetables or use them in easily prepared and inexpensive ways," said Jennifer Rood, PhD, and associate executive director for Core Services and Resources at Pennington Biomedical. “Among other things, eating fruits and vegetables helps people maintain a healthy weight while reducing the risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers and high blood pressure.”

Over the next year, Pennington Biomedical researchers plan to hold monthly Rolling Store Healthy Cooking Demonstrations and Screenings in 12 low-income areas. The first event will be from 10 a.m. to noon Sept. 12 at 8435 Ned Ave. in Baton Rouge. Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, Pennington Biomedical Executive Director John Kirwan, PhD, and Rood will speak at the event. The Gardere Initiative is providing space for the event.

The events will include:

  • Presentations about the importance of eating fruits and vegetables, information about buying seasonally to get the best value in fruits and vegetables.
  • Cooking demonstrations on easy ways to prepare several types of fruits and vegetables.
  • Ways the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits can be used to make a budget stretch farther.
  • Free health screenings for blood pressure, blood sugar and body fat. Pennington Biomedical personnel will review the results with each participant and refer those with abnormal results to their physicians for follow-up care.

"We anticipate that participants who increase fruits and vegetables in their diet will have similar results to those in one of our pilot studies, namely, weight loss and decreased body mass index (BMI), as well as significant improvements in self-esteem and emotional well-being," Rood said.

After each cooking demonstration, participants will get to eat the food that has been prepared and will be given additional fruits and vegetables to take home. Participants will also receive printed recipes developed by Pennington Biomedical’s Metabolic Kitchen.

Additional events are set for:

  • Oct. 14, 3-5 p.m., 230 Renee Drive, Baton Rouge. Shepherd’s Market Choice Food Pantry
  • Nov. 2, 9-11 a.m., 1217 S. Burnside Ave., Gonzales. First Baptist Church of Gonzales
  • Nov. 26, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., 4000 Gus Young Ave., Baton Rouge. Martin Luther King Thanksgiving Basket Giveaway, sponsor. For more information about The Rolling Store and upcoming events, call (225) 763-2524 or email Jennifer.Rood@pbrc.edu.

The program was made possible thanks to a grant from the Huey and Angelina Wilson Foundation, a Baton Rouge nonprofit that supports efforts to meet people’s basic needs, improve access to health care, education and to help former prisoners successfully re-enter society.

 

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About LSU's Pennington Biomedical Research Center

LSU's Pennington Biomedical Research Center is at the forefront of medical discovery as it relates to understanding the triggers of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia. The center conducts basic, clinical and population research, and is affiliated with Louisiana State University. The research enterprise at Pennington Biomedical includes over 450 employees within a network of 40 clinics and research laboratories, and 13 highly specialized core service facilities. Its scientists and physician/scientists are supported by research trainees, lab technicians, nurses, dietitians and other support personnel. Pennington Biomedical is located in state-of-the-art research facilities on a 222-acre campus in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.