By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
When it comes to leading a healthy lifestyle, it can be hard knowing where to even begin. So many factors play into one’s health that it can soon become overwhelming, luckily, Kohl’s Healthy Families stepped in to help.
Recently, Kohl’s Healthy Families, which is a partnership between Kohl’s and the American Cancer Society, awarded six organizations with a nutrition grant to help them jumpstart projects that focus on understanding health, healthy food choices and how they connect to cancer prevention. The recipients are Cross Lutheran Church, Milwaukee Area Technical College Foundation, Muslim Community & Health Center, Riverwest Food Pantry, Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s College of Nursing.
The groups were chosen through a competitive application process, in which they had to submit a proposal for a project that would increase awareness of the link between cancer and a healthy lifestyle or improve access to healthy foods.
Fauzia Qureshi, a manager at the Muslim Community & Health Center said the center was honored to have been chosen. To kickoff its education program, the center is planning to host an outdoor event at the Islamic Da’Wah Center, 5135 N. Teutonia Ave., starting at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 8.
Qureshi said participants will receive a $10 gift card to a nearby grocery store, a reusable tote bag and the Kohl’s Healthy Families guidebook. There will also be food and other opportunities to start one’s journey to a healthy life.
The Muslim Community & Health Center serves a lot of the minority populations in Milwaukee. As such, the center plans to create an hour-long educational program, which will be available in multiple languages, Qureshi said.
The program will be in-person and available online at mchcwi.org. Qureshi said the education portion will cover how to eat healthy food, where to find healthy food, fitness exercises and how a healthy lifestyle relates to cancer prevention.
Laurie Bertrand, the executive director for the American’s Cancer Society, noted that about 20% of cancer is preventable simply by making some lifestyle changes.
“Where people live, work, learn and play can affect someone’s healthy lifestyle,” Bertrand said. “Making healthy changes doesn’t have to be a monumental change.”
Aside from focusing on small and attainable goals, Bertrand said a person should pay attention to the resources around them, family history and where they grew up. She encouraged people to take the nutrition quiz on the American Cancer Society’s website, cancer.org, to better asses what their nutrition looks like and what it could be.
It can be difficult for people to get healthy food, especially during the pandemic, Qureshi said. Right now, the organization serves about 800 meals through its senior center.
She said part of eating healthy is knowing where to look for produce (be it fresh or frozen) and when to buy it. If it’s bought on sale and on time, people can enjoy the produce or freeze it. As Bertrand pointed out, the Kohl’s Healthy Families guidebooks includes tips on how to freeze produce and more. The guidebook is available at acskohls.org.
Qureshi added that the education program will focus on families.
“Serving the entire family makes the best impact and makes for the best change,” she said.
Last year, Qureshi said the center saw a huge impact when families came in together to attend the workshops. Grandparents and children would come in to learn and then would teach the parents, she said.
According to the American Cancer Society, the Muslim Community & Health Center reported an increase in the number of participants who knew where to access healthy food from 21% to 98%, how to cook healthy from 25% to 95% and how to prevent cancer with healthy food from 9% to 96%.
Healthy eating isn’t just about weight, Qureshi said, one’s habits play a role in heart disease, diabetes, cancer and more.
It’s never too late to begin leading a healthy life.