In Washington County, research shows the health outcomes for Latinos are significantly worse than those of other ethnic backgrounds. The concentrated poverty for immigrant farmers, challenges of adapting to a new culture and poor urban planning have all added to the poor health of Washington County’s Latino population. However, it is also evident that lifestyle choices have also played a large role. For Adelante Mujeres, a Forest Grove, Oregon-based nonprofit, the solution lies in holistic education about health, food, and nutrition to inspire positive lifestyle changes.
“Nourish the Community,” one of Adelante Mujeres’ newest initiatives, aims to incorporate nutrition education into their already established programs such as their Adult Education, Chicas, and Early Education programs. Nourish the Community was funded with a $200,000 Kaiser Permanente Community Fund grant in 2011. “This is an initiative where the values of health, wellness and nutrition are disseminated throughout all of the programs,” said Kaely Summers, Adelante Mujeres’ Farm Coordinator.
“It’s been encouraging and helpful to have the support of NWHF and Kaiser for organizational capacity. Now we have the time to planning this all out the best way possible.”
Adelante Mujeres focuses on education and access, and “one way of doing this is the farmers market,” said Summers, “We have this resource here that we’re bring all of this great food and local fruits and veggies and organic food to the people of forest grove and the greater community. Through our matching program, people come with food stamps or with their WIC checks and can get that same amount matched up to 10 dollars a week. Essentially if they swipe their card for 10 dollars they’ll get 20 dollars in total!”
Adelante also focuses on microenterprise. “We have a microenterprise goal so that our producers, our farmers, as well as food producers like the tamale makers are now contributing to the community as producers of a health resource,” said Summers, “Obviously if people are financially sound they can make healthier choices in their life.”
Finally, Adelante focuses on community advocacy. “We want our participants to be more politically, and civically active in the community and what they’re doing.” said Summers, “we want them to learn things in the walking club and share them with their neighbors and extended families.”
Adelante acknowledges that the Forest Grove community represents many different levels of health and wellness. “Some people are struggling with diabetes and don’t know a carrot from a radish, and others are farmers who are producing kale and eating that, and are walking every day,” said Summers.
“We want to meet people where they are and work with them so they not only become healthy themselves in the choices that they make, but so they can contribute back into the community.”