What’s Growing On: North Florida South Georgia VA brings virtual cooking classes to veterans

Published: Jan. 6, 2022 at 6:11 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -The Healthy Teaching Kitchen has provided veterans with nutritious recipes and classes to implement healthy choices into their lifestyle.

According to the Center of Disease Control, veterans are at a higher risk of multiple chronic conditions compared to the general population.

“To help combat that, and try to get those numbers down and help the veterans either postpone the onset of that type of condition or reduce the condition in general- or manage it, that is where nutrition comes into play,” Melanya Souza, a dietician with the North Florida South Georgia VA, explained.

Souza was teaching in-person cooking classes at the Malcolm Randall Veterans Affair Medical Center.

Related Story: Oldest WWII vet dies at age 112 in New Orleans

Since the pandemic began, Souza had to move her cooking classes online through VA Video Connect.

What seemed to be a major setback for the healthy teaching kitchen ended up improving the program overall.

“I can work with them with their own appliances, their own equipment, their own set up, and help them troubleshoot and figure out what works best for them,” said Souza.

These online classes help veterans that may be struggling with mobility or the willpower to travel to the hospital for an in-person class. They also have a broader reach to more areas encompassing the Southeast.

“We have to find that middle ground where we balance the nutrient content with our enjoyment of eating it. That’s really what helps rebuild a positive relationship with food, and help us make good choices for ourselves that are both nutritious and satisfying,” stated Souza.

The Healthy Teaching Kitchen is available to all veterans enrolled in the North Florida South Georgia Health Care System.

For more information, contact Melanya Souza at 352-548-6630 or MELANYA.SOUZA@VA.GOV.

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