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Aspen Institute bringing Food is Medicine Convening to Sunflower Nonprofit Center

Food & Society at the Aspen Institute, a leader in initiatives to expand access to food and nutrition interventions that aid in preventing, managing and even reversing chronic disease, will be hosting its Food is Medicine Midwest Convening Jan. 25 and 26 at the Sunflower Nonprofit Center in Topeka.

The event is set for 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Jan. 25 and 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Jan. 26 at the Powerhouse Conference Center, 5820 SW Sixth Ave. Attendees will include thought leaders and emerging and established scholars in fields connected to Food is Medicine.

The Food & Society at the Aspen Institute’s Food is Medicine initiative seeks to share knowledge about food and nutrition interventions, identify strategic priorities for the initiative and facilitate new collaborations in places where access to such interventions has been limited or non-existent. The institute recently released its Food is Medicine Research Action Plan to serve as both a catalyst and framework for investments in this area of work. In its continued efforts to provide shared learning opportunities and advance the knowledge in Food is Medicine, the institute has hosted regional convenings in Boston and Sacramento, Calif.

The institute chose Topeka as the site for a third convening to highlight Kansas’ emerging work in food and nutrition interventions, including Sunflower Foundation’s Food is Medicine initiative involving some of the state’s federally qualified health centers (FQHCs). Through a partnership with Sunflower Foundation, Kansas Food Bank, Harvesters – The Community Food Network, and six FQHCs across the state, the initiative provides chronically ill patients with such items as medically tailored groceries, nutritious food and meal ingredients, and cooking educational opportunities – all with the purpose of helping them better manage their conditions. Please visit Sunflower Foundation Our Work and scroll down to Food is Medicine to learn more.

The gathering in Topeka will focus on Food is Medicine in rural communities. Topics will include:

  • Generational poverty in urban and rural communities;
  • The role charitable food systems and the health care safety net play in Food is Medicine;
  • Food and nutrition interventions in tribal communities;
  • An overview and evaluation of federally funded produce prescription projects, provided by the Gretchen Swanson Center on Nutrition;
  • Diet-related health disparities in rural America;
  • The paradox of having food deserts in farm country;
  • An overview and evaluation of the Sunflower Foundation Food is Medicine pilot project, provided by the foundation’s Food is Medicine evaluation team;
  • The impact Food is Medicine can have when funding and policy come together.

On Thursday, Topeka Chef Ambroja Watson will take on the challenge of using food pantry staple items to create a delicious and nutritious lunch for those participating in the convening.

The teams at both Food & Society at the Aspen Institute and Sunflower Foundation are hopeful that the Food is Medicine initiative in Kansas, as well as the convening in Topeka, will help advance knowledge on food and nutrition interventions in rural areas, where access to both healthy food and health care services can be limited or non-existent.

See the full schedule for the Food is Medicine Midwest Convening.

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