The faculty members at The University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communications & Journalism and Keck School of Medicine strive to be of service to the community. They have created Quick Help for Meals, an Android app that helps combat the national epidemic of obesity and improve the quality of family meals. The app grew out of a 25-year, award-winning project that has dramatically expanded the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables reaching low-income people through the nation’s 33,000 community food pantries.
The nearly 40 million clients of this nation’s food pantries suffer elevated rates of obesity, diabetes, cardio-vascular disease, and other diet-related conditions. Numerous studies have shown how increased consumption of fresh produce helps fight obesity and promote health. Over the past twenty years, many food banks and community pantries have started distributing significant amounts of free fresh produce. Unfortunately, though, many pantry clients do not know how to prepare vegetables in nutritious, varied, and appealing ways; they also need to acquire other food management skills for healthier eating.
The phone app offers two kinds of content that each pantry client customizes to his or her needs and interests. One, VeggieBook, enables a food recipient to obtain recipes and food-use tips about fresh vegetables. A recipient decides which kinds of recipes and tips he or she wants, from among hundreds of specially-designed recipes. Users can get these printed immediately at the pantry as well as saved on the phone. All materials are in English and Spanish.
The second section of the app, Secrets to Better Eating, invites a pantry client to browse five chapters (about better breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks, and food shopping). Secrets present more than 80 concrete, no-cost strategies for limiting fats and sugar in the diet, establishing a warm atmosphere at meals, curtailing overeating, involving children in meal preparations, introducing children to new food tastes, and bargain-conscious grocery shopping, among other themes. Each client’s selected ideas are printed at the pantry and saved to the phone. And, as with VeggieBook’s recipes and tips, a client can e-mail Secrets to friends or family and get extra printed copies as well.
The creators, Peter Clarke, PhD. and Susan Evans, Ph.D., are our guests.