The spread of COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus, pandemic has devastated communities across the country. One of the groups hardest hit by the viral outbreak has been African Americans. Due to pre-existing health conditions and a history of racial discrimination within the healthcare field, the black community has been seeing higher rates of infections as oppose to other groups. Now, one doctor is teaming up with supermarket brand Whole Foods to offer free nutrition classes and resources to African Americans amid the public health crisis.
Dr. Akua Woolbright has always been passionate about healthy living, especially when it came to the African American community. When she began working with the Whole Cities Foundation, the nonprofit arm of Whole Foods, her mission was to help educate and provide resources to underserved communities. Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, she has committed herself to helping the black community fight back against the virus.
Woolbright recently launched the Let’s Talk Food initiative, a free nutrition education class where she teaches consumers how to decode food labels and how to construct a plant-based diet to help tackle pre-existing conditions. In an email interview with BLACK ENTERPRISE, Woolbright explains how seeing how a company medical immersion gave her the inspiration to create the class.
“I saw amazing transformations occur as Whole Foods Market employees completed our company’s intensive week-long medical immersions led by doctors using only food as medicine,” she wrote.
“Year after year, participants consistently lost weight and kept it off, got healthier and drastically reduced or eliminated their medications. I started teaching nutrition and culinary education classes around the country, and in 2012 moved to Detroit as part of the Whole Foods Market community relations team tasked to help bring the first national grocery store back to the city in 2013.”
Woolbright went on to explain that the class was an important way to help empower African Americans at high risk by educating them on how to reconstruct their diet to help them combat the virus. The classes cover a wide variety of health topics including the principles of optimal nutrition, eating for healthy weight loss, managing chronic disease, decoding labels, combating food cravings, eating on a budget in addition to a wide variety of cooking demonstrations and hands-on cooking classes.
“Stepping outside our comfort zone and taking our program out into the community helped us to learn from our students, establish trust and build rapport,” she explained.
“Through my work at Whole Cities Foundation, I offer a combined approach that emphasizes information, inspiration, and support. I provide the latest evidence-based, scientific information for disease prevention and control from both within traditional and alternative modalities.”