Mary Tyndall (MTyndall@sjchf.org) came to the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation in 2021 to facilitate the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP) grant that the organization was awarded.
Describe your organization and role.
The St. Joseph Community Health Foundation was reorganized in 1998 when a religious order of Catholic sisters, The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, sold the St. Joseph Medical Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana. When they sold the medical center, they they placed part of the proceeds in the foundation in Allen County, Indiana. The mission of the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation is to serve low-income, vulnerable residents. In our organization, we have four different priorities: food insecurity and nutrition, prenatal and infant care, immigrant and refugee support, and health care access. I work primarily in the food insecurity and nutrition area. As part of this work, we provide support through grants to organizations like food banks, food pantries, and food reclamation projects. Additionally, we work with Parkview Health to implement the Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) initiative. This initiative has a two-pronged approach. One approach is to provide pop up farmers market locations in our community that take WIC, SNAP, and senior farmers market vouchers. The second piece of the HEAL initiative approach is the cooking and nutrition education classes. We provide small grants to non-profits, churches, and other similar groups working with people experiencing low-income to implement these classes. As part of our partnership, Parkview Health dietitians create the cirriculum and train others to teach the classes in these locations. Classes provide nutrition information and allow participants to practice cooking skills.
In 2020, our organization received a Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Project Grant (GusNIP). This is a SNAP matching program that is implemented in Allen County at a variety of farmers market locations, retail locations, and, in the fall, one new nonprofit grocery store. We have also been working with the Indiana Department of Health to launch SNAP matching at farmers markets across the state. This involves us managing grants to farmers markets so they can start matching SNAP dollars and adopting the Double Up branding if they would like.
What are projects and/or partnerships that have been impactful in the work you do?
Our long-standing partnership between Parkview Health has had a significant impact on the community, especially in the areas of nutrition and food insecurity. Parkview Health has tremendous resources and skilled practitioners like registered dietitians who are very passionate about this work. We are able to provide grant management and can convene community groups to share resources and ideas. As I mentioned, we partner with them to implement the HEAL markets and Parkview Health sponsors the Double Up programs. Parkview Health also offers Veggie Rx, a produce prescription program. We both work with similar agencies to provide comprehensive food access and nutrition support in our community.
What is the most interesting or intriguing part of your role?
The most interesting part of this role has been learning more about food insecurity and food systems. My background is in communications and municipal government work. So, I have learned a lot in this role, which I appreciate! My favorite parts of this role are going to the farmers markets, connecting with people, and seeing all the beautiful produce. Going to the farmers market is a celebration of fresh, local, and nutritious foods.
What is the “why” behind what you do?
My parents instilled in me a desire to be of service and to do something meaningful with my life. My parents made sure I understood how much privilege, love, and support I was given so that I would give back and make a meaningful difference in the world. Giving back and being of service to others also fills my tank and allows me to be in community with others. When I go to the farmers markets, I get to share a love for nutritious food with those around me and that brings me so much happiness.
Is there anything else SNAC members should know?
It has been great to connect through the different SNAC meetings to learn about the different work going on in this area. Taking the time to learn about various approaches and projects is so important. If anyone has ideas or thoughts around Double Up or anything they would like to see implemented around the model, please reach out and we can start the conversation! I am always open to sharing information and learning more.