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Chasidie Glover, Loaves & Fishes Nutritional Service Coordinator and RD Talks About Our New Specialty Box Program

My first experience with Loaves & Fishes began as a dietetic intern completing my community rotation. Prior to my internship with Loaves & Fishes, I had no idea food insecurity was so high in my own community. Seeing the number of people we fed increase every week was moving because I truly felt like we were helping so many people in need. During my internship, I focused on effectively delivering nutrition education to our clients. This was important to me because, I believed that even people who are in a crisis deserve to know about healthy eating and preparing food in a variety of ways. One of the client’s favorite experience is when I provided samples of food in the pantry along with healthy recipes. This warmed my heart because I could see the impact this small addition to our pantries made. However, I knew there was so much more I needed to address with our clients.

Once COVID-19 hit our community, the need for our clients skyrocketed. So many of our clients were out of work with bills to pay and mouths to feed. After being hired as a full-time program coordinator, I saw, first hand, clients receiving an abundance of food, but I also listened to their stories about how their health was also affected by COVID-19. When COVID-19 took away jobs, it caused many of our clients to decide between medication and food, which is a decision I had seen my own family members struggle to make. In 2019, Loaves & Fishes distributed a Client Impact Survey which found that 68% of our clients reported having high blood pressure and/or diabetes. With a master’s degree in family and consumer sciences and a license to practice as a dietitian in the state of North Carolina, I knew there was a need for me to help these clients. This was the inspiration that pushed me to create my position as a Nutrition Services Coordinator and Registered Dietitian at Loaves & Fishes.

It has been my responsibility as a dietitian to provide our clients with healthy food options that will help them better manage their disease. The specialty box program is how we will achieve this goal. Using nutrition guidelines, I have created a specialty box that includes items with less than 10% of sodium, added sugar, cholesterol, and saturated fat per serving. All the items are nonperishable, and it will feed one client for seven days. In addition to these items, clients receive low-fat milk, yogurt, meat, and fresh produce with every specialty box.

We hope that our clients will have a better chance at managing their diabetes and/or heart disease with these boxes. Specialty boxes also provide a glimpse at what their regular diet should consist of, so we are providing education to the client every time we give them food. Loaves & Fishes understands that living with diabetes and heart disease is not easy during COVID-19, but we are working hard to do what we can to make it easier.