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In the March/April issue of Neighborhoods Partnership Network’s (NPN’s) The Trumpet, Jay Shukla — a New Orleans Schweitzer Fellow and Tulane School of Medicine student —  provides an in-depth look at his Schweitzer project: a free nutrition counseling and cooking class program at the Daughters of Charity Family Clinic in the 9th ward.

As Shukla explains in the article,

The clinic serves mostly uninsured patients and treats people of all ages. In a state that ranks 4th in the nation for obesity, it’s not surprising that the most common diseases encountered are closely related to body weight and diet, including heart disease, hypertension, and type-two diabetes.

Working closely with the doctors at Daughters of Charity, Shukla has set in motion a program that’s doing something about it — first through culturally competent nutrition counseling sessions, then through a cooking class tailored based on information gathered in those counseling sessions, and then through a Healthy New Orleans recipe book that the clinic will use as a permanent educational tool.

According to Shukla,

So far, the response has been great. When I go into the clinic, the doctors refer patients to me based on their need for weight loss and their desire to make changes in their life.

During the counseling sessions, the patients … tell me about what they have been eating, how they choose what to eat, how they cook their food, and where they go to purchase food. In exchange, I offer them personalized advice on ways to eat healthier without straying too far from their typical routine.

They are usually very receptive to the new ideas … most of them already know what’s healthy, but the conversations in clinic tend to remind them of what they should be doing and how to do it. One man became excited at the idea of riding his bicycle again with his wife. Another woman was inspired to start making new kinds of salads at home that she had never tried before.

Shukla goes on to describe the experience he has had as a New Orleans Schweitzer Fellow:

While ASF is only in its 3rd year in New Orleans, it has been at work fostering idealism and service across the U.S. since 1991. I applied to the New Orleans Schweitzer Fellows Program as a 3rd year medical student, and the organization and other Fellows have been a major help in putfing my project into action … I feel quite fortunate to be able to work with such a charismatic population of people, both in the clinic and in the Fellowship … through the Fellowship, I have been able to network with other graduate students of various disciplines who care about health disparities in New Orleans and are willing to work hard to make change happen.

You can read the full March/April issue of The Trumpet by clicking here — the feature on Shukla is on page 28.

To support the work of New Orleans Schweitzer Fellows like Shukla, click here.