"How can we possibly create a just world if our children do not have equal access to fresh, wholesome food," asks Laura Sugarwala, RD, "or have the knowledge to make smart choices about what to eat?"
Defeating inequity is part of the reason Sugarwala chose community nutrition when she became a registered dietitian. This passion brought Sugarwala to Rochester, N.Y., which bears one of the nation’s highest poverty rates for children. She is the nutrition resource manager for Foodlink, a regional Feeding America food bank that distributes over 13 million pounds of food to 150,000 people annually.
“We all work very hard to feed people — and feed them well,” says Sugarwala of her fellow Foodlink teammates. “I’m so thankful to have found a profession where everyone values this commitment.
Sugarwala started the local Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters program at Foodlink. This program teaches children from low-income families about nutrition and how to prepare healthy, budget-conscious meals. To bridge lesson plans into real-world experiences, she created KidsCAN, a course based on cooking, activity and nutrition, aimed at the more than 3,000 children served by Foodlink’s child meal program.
“The kids have adored these classes,” says Sugarwala. “I guess the best feedback is their constant hugs and questions like, ‘When are you coming back?’”