Empowered with extensive skills and knowledge of nutrition education and diabetes management, our Health Ambassadors advocate for healthy cooking and eating habits and work to reduce barriers to nutrition education in their community through workshops, farmers markets, health fairs, and more.

In February, Nina Bernacet, programs manager; Markesia Nelson, health ambassador; and Bri Kellogg, nutrition education and health coordinator (left to right above); shared information with Chicago stakeholders about Beyond Hunger’s Health Ambassador program at the 18th Annual Chicago Food Justice Summit. The summit highlights ways to ground policy in community action and seeks to engage community members in reimagining Chicago’s foodscape in areas such as climate change, labor equity, food access, and urban farming.

Starting as a grassroots effort in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood, the Health Ambassadors are creating a new health paradigm by impacting nutrition security for generations to come, one neighbor at a time.

What we hear time and again from our Health Ambassadors is that they are now able to teach others because they have a more complete understanding of how to manage the symptoms of diabetes and more importantly, they know what questions to ask and how to get answers.  It takes individuals beyond a diagnosis, beyond even individual change, to help make a neighborhood-wide powerful impact.

Markesia, for example, was referred to the program through her pastor, Dorin McIntyre, who leads What About Us Inc., an important partner for Beyond Hunger’s Home Delivery program. Markesia, who has her HiSET diploma, CNA, PCT, and phlebotomy certificate, is now pursuing her education in nursing. She has already used her added nutrition knowledge for patient advocacy. It was exactly what she was looking for,

“I’m thankful to God and my pastor,” she says. “I’m making a change for me and for my kids – the Health Ambassadors program was an answer to my prayers.”

Join the discussion on social media!