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Students’ project aims to make obesity preventable

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Updated: August 19, 2013 1:39PM



Did you know:

Nearly one-third of the American adult population is obese?

Some farmers markets accept LINK cards?

When you sit down to dinner, half of the food on your plate should be made up of vegetables?

These are just some of the healthy eating tips that Angela Boomsma and Gina Golem have collected for a new nutrition pamphlet they devised for clients of Together We Cope in Tinley Park.

Golem and Boomsma are master’s degree students in St. Xavier University’s nurse practitioner program. For their summer project, they were instructed to find a way to apply some newly acquired skills in a community health setting.

“We felt that fixing nutrition would help fix so many other health problems,” Golem said.

Obesity and poor nutrition can lead to many other conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, joint problems and even cancer.

Their mission began with a community survey to identify needs. Once they decided to address obesity, they developed a program around it.

“Eat Well: The Nutrition Link” contains tips on healthier ways to cook foods distributed by the food pantry, as well as advice on how best to spend government food entitlements. The pamphlet is tucked inside bags of food given to families.

Because they both live in Tinley Park, they were familiar with Together We Cope, an emergency assistance program that aims to get people through tough times and then back on their feet. The social service agency has a food pantry that serves, on average, 65 families per day, five days a week.

“We noticed that there tends to be more obesity among lower-income people,” Golem said.

The pamphlets contain information about appropriate portion sizes, the benefits of cooking with olive or canola oil as opposed to butter as well as information on how best to use the government’s LINK card and food stamp (SNAP) programs.

“Just because you’re struggling financially doesn’t mean you can’t eat healthy,” Boomsma said. “We’d like to see obesity become a problem that is preventable instead of one that is just fixed.”

Both Golem and Boomsma are on schedule to graduate next May.

For more information on Together We Cope, call (708) 633-5040 or visit togetherwecope.com.

For more information on the LINK or SNAP programs, visit
dhs.state.il.us/



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