Saskatoon Health Region had a great opportunity to share a success story in February by appearing before an influential House of Commons committee in Ottawa.

Nancy Klebaum, Manager of Healthy Mother, Healthy Baby & Food for Thought and Donna Nelson, dietitian for the Food for Thought program, were invited to present to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention as representatives of Saskatoon Health Region’s Food For Thought program. This committee’s role is to review healthy eating by Canadians and plan a future study focusing on nutrition.

Klebaum and Nelson acted as one of four witness groups presenting to the Committee. Each group was given ten minutes to present the work they were doing and offer recommendations.

Food for Thought assists pre and postnatal women and their children achieve improved health through a focus on cooking low-cost nutritious food. It brings women together and gives them an opportunity to share ideas, make friends, and talk about their lives. The food that is cooked is sent home with the participants to be shared with their families. A participant-driven discussion on topics related to pregnancy follows each cooking session. The interdisciplinary team, who facilitate the program, use a strength-based approach in all their interactions with the participants and Peer Leaders.

They briefed the committee on the goals and objectives of the program, guiding principles and delivery approaches. They concluded their presentation with a success story written by a young program participant who started when she found herself pregnant at 18, a struggling high school drop out and just out of rehabilitation for a crack cocaine addiction. She credits the program for her “new life”. She is now a Food For Thought Peer Leader and in her final year of a Social Work degree at the University of Saskatchewan.

“When our presentation ended with this story, the committee spontaneously applauded,” says Klebaum. “They didn’t do that after any of the other presentations, so we really felt that they had been touched by the work that we do!”