Hospitality, Mutuality, Transformation

It was a rainy Monday morning in Germantown. Several people were scattered throughout the large dining room at Face to Face; some congregated with friends and acquaintances at various tables, chatting and sipping on hot coffee, while others sat alone nibbling on crackers and other snacks packed in a brown bag that was given to them upon their arrival.

People come to Face to Face for a variety of reasons. Bruce Allen just wanted to sit and relax with his friends on this dreary morning. Sugar Moore, on the other hand, was scarfing down the breakfast bars and asking those around her if there was anything they were willing to share with her.

The services provided at the organization have greatly expanded from the soup kitchen it was founded as decades ago. Today, one can not only get a hot meal, but they can also obtain health screenings, legal and social services provided by trained professionals, take art classes, or even take shelter from the outside elements and enjoy a warm shower free of charge.

Face to Face is a perfect example of how the problem of inadequate health and nutrition is prevalent in many poor, urban communities across the United States. Mary Kay Meeks-Hank, executive director at Face to Face, has witnessed firsthand the issue of hunger and food insecurity in the area. I got a chance to talk to Meeks-Hank, who has seen firsthand the many people who have walked the halls of 109 Price St. and utilized the services. Most are regulars, she said; however, there are also many instances where she comes across unfamiliar faces as well.

Meeks-Hank jumped right on board when she was initially contacted by Tom Wingert of the “Exploring Nutrition” project at La Salle University. This new and upcoming program that will be officially launched this fall addresses the vast issue of health and nutrition in the urban areas. Below, you will find the specific area that the “Exploring Nutrition” project will cover, located within the blue line.

Face to Face is located on the outskirts of this area on 109 Price St.

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As outlined in earlier blog posts, there has been a lot of focus lately on the health attitudes and behaviors exhibited by people across the country, especially in the field of nutrition. The topic of health and nutrition has become an area of interest over the last decade or so. In the academic realm as well as the real world, people are beginning to realize the enormity of the consequences, health and otherwise, the foods they put in their body are having on them. In a world where fast food consumes more than 10% of the average adult’s diet, many are blowing the whistle and calling for a diet that is heavily reliant on fresh fruits and vegetables rather than greasy, fried, processed foods that are offered on almost every street corner in America. Everywhere you turn, there is information available for people who are aiming to improve their diet and lifestyle by eating more healthy foods. Whether it’s in a news feature on a local television station, an online blog post or nutrition article, or healthy recipe idea on Pinterest, the idea of adopting a healthier lifestyle has become a prevalent part of today’s society.

The statistics are proof enough that people could use a little more fruits and vegetables in their overall diet, especially in the poorer areas, as well as the area surrounding La Salle .

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This is where Face to Face and Exploring Nutrition are hoping to step in. Take a look at a feature I produced that takes a closer look at how the Exploring Nutrition project as well as various classes at La Salle are lending a helping hand:

By partnering with La Salle, Face to Face hopes to begin offering more healthy, nutritious meal options to their patrons. This, they hope, will be a first step in combating the problem of hunger, food insecurity, as well as obesity and negative health consequences that run rampant in the poverty-ridden sections of the city. Although these issues are deep seeded and have many culprits behind the root of the problem, it is the hope of Meeks-Hank as well as those in charge of Exploring Nutrition that by offering fresh, healthy alternatives, this will set a solid foundation necessary for people to begin living a better, fuller, more satisfying lifestyle.

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