ACTIVE Coalition Meeting with EMU REACH Nutrition ACTIVE: Asian Communities Toward Innovative Visionary Environment

Left picture: Meng Hu, Dr. Xining Yang, Roland Hwang, Dr. Tsu-Yin Wu, Dr. Alice Jo Rainville, Dr. John Sonnega, Dr. Meriam Caboral-Stevens, Rachel Bessire, Shabina Chowdhury. Right picture (left to right): Dr. Olivia Ford, Dr. Tsu-Yin Wu, Tameka Jackson-Dyer, Dr. Alice Jo Rainville, Meng Hu, Dr. John Sonnega, Dr. Meriam Caboral-Stevens, Rachel Bessire, Dr. Xining Yang

ACTIVE Nutrition Coalition Panel

On June 23, 2020 the following partners met on a Zoom meeting to discuss the impact and future directions with the nutrition team of the Eastern Michigan University REACH project. The community partners included: David Liou and Joyce Li, representatives of Association of Chinese Americans (ACA), Aziz Khandker and Nazia Chowdhury, representatives of Bangladeshi American Public Affairs Committee (BAPAC), Khurshida Hossain, representative of Detroit Friendship House, Emina Ferizovic, representative of J & E Community Relief, Inc., Amaal Haimout, representative of Wayne County Healthy Communities Federally Qualified Health Clinic, and Minnie Morey and Krishna Bista, representatives of West Michigan Asian American Association (WMAAA). The questions for the panel focused on healthy food access during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the best ways to help Asian Americans learn about healthy blood pressure and how to manage diabetes.

Feedback from Panel of Community Partners

The feedback we received was that resources shared on Facebook for children were helpful during quarantine and the focus group in March engaged community members in Hamtramck. The Food and Nutrition Coordinator (FNC) created a flyer about the Detroit Friendship House food pantry in Hamtramck, which BAPAC was able to share with community members in Hamtramck. Khurshida Hossain and representatives from ACA stated that the peer counselor training on breastfeeding was very helpful for the women who attended the training.

Peer Counselor Training for Breastfeeding

The Lactation Consultant for the REACH team, Tameka Jackson-Dyer, and FNC, Rachel Bessire, conducted a peer counselor training on June 10th and 11th at J&E Community Relief to train ten women how to be breastfeeding peer counselors. Six of the women were from the Chinese American community and four of the women were from the Hamtramck community.

Peer Counselor Training

COVID Care Package Collaboration

The ACA, J & E Community Relief, and BAPAC partnered to distribute 100 care packages in April to families in Hamtramck, American Indian Services, Genesis House (a homeless shelter), and the Sister Judy Program in Grosse Pointe.

Using a $25.00 per box limit and cultural considerations based on data previously gathered through work with a local food pantry, nutrition experts provided input on foods and hygiene items for the care packages. The care packages contained a variety of foods, including protein (peanut butter, canned beans, and canned tuna or chicken), fruits and vegetables (cantaloupe, cabbage, and potatoes), and carbohydrates (rice and oatmeal) for nourishment. The packages also contained much-needed personal protection supplies (e.g., face masks, hand soap, hand sanitizer) to help vulnerable individuals reduce risks of contracting the virus. The foods and hygiene items were purchased from the local food bank in Detroit through a community partner with food distribution.

On April 21, 2020 the REACH Food and Nutrition Coordinator Rachel Bessire and Physical Activity Coordinator Jessica Donnelly distributed 100 care packages they had made.

Educational Resources

As for social media and education needs, we learned that gardening is popular. The REACH team plans to make YouTube videos on how to freeze and preserve vegetables from the garden. The panel recommended that EMU REACH create videos on how to use food pantry items, make healthy substitutions in recipes, portion sizes, and share recipes using Asian vegetables.

Find videos on freezing fruits and vegetables on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/EMU-CHDIS-113553840093183/?view_public_for=113553840093183

Future Direction: Inclusive Programming

EMU REACH can be more inclusive. One frustration expressed was that REACH activities were only for Asian Americans. Therefore, the partner suggested including other racial/ethnic minorities in the area if possible as well as other local partners serving these groups. Another suggestion from the panel was to share more posts about mental health. The FNC and Physical Activity coordinator created a post for the EMU CHDIS Facebook page and shared it shortly after the coalition meeting (see below).

If you would like to provide feedback to the team please contact Rachel Bessire at rbessire@emich.edu or call 360-722-0314.


Created with an image by Nadine Primeau - "This picture is part of a set of photos that were taken towards the end of the summer to realize one of my projects that was close to my heart: making a calendar for the coming year. Because I like to admire the colour and textures, vegetables are an excellent choice because they can offer a whole show for the eyes all year round! Visit my website to find out this calendar named Harvest Collection!"