Making Meals That Matter
Access to hospital food is important, but it isn’t always enough: Mothers, infants and families need and deserve meals that accommodate dietary restrictions or preferences and are nutrient-dense and culturally relevant. To ensure these meals are free and accessible, March of Dimes recruited the help of Everybody Eats, a team of Black chefs dedicated to ending hunger through equity. Together, these organizations operate a program for families in the NICU called Meals That Matter.
Everybody Eats creates meals that provide families with comfort and connection, and March of Dimes ensures those meals reach the NICU. Each meal is personal: Everybody Eats considers the cultural identities and dietary needs of mothers and creates meals that represent the appropriate cuisine.
“Feeding this next generation of moms and kids healthy and nutritious meals to ensure that they’re growing up alert and ready to take on the world is huge,” says Stephanie Willis, a nationally recognized chef and leader at Everybody Eats. “We’re happy to be a part of that.” After the NICU, the work takes on another critical function: Everybody Eats remains an incredible resource for families struggling to achieve food security, including new mothers and their children.
March of Dimes works to ensure that infants and their mothers survive, but it’s more than that: Ending inequity means giving families the chance to thrive. With the support of Everybody Eats, Meals That Matter helps children thrive from day one, with access to food that helps families build healthy relationships with each other, with culture and with their community.
HERE ARE SOME OTHER WAYS TO GET INVOLVED
To provide resources for parents: For parents whose babies were born early or unexpectedly, self-care is often relegated to the backseat. You can donate your time to make personal care kits to send to parents who might need a lending hand in maintaining their own physical and mental health.
To support siblings: Difficult pregnancies and preterm births are undoubtedly challenging for parents, but experiences like these also weigh heavy on siblings. Something you can do to help is create sibling activity kits, which provide entertainment for siblings and grant parents some leeway to focus on their most pressing health needs.
To lend emotional support to families: On a human level, one of the most powerful things a family enduring a trying pregnancy experience can hear is that they are not alone. Through the March of Dimes website, you can write and send a Note of Hope to one of these families and help feed the fuel they need to keep going.
To advocate for change:
To forge an impact that’ll help change our whole country for the better, rally a community or small group for a Postcard Party where you’ll write and send letters to elected officials. On the March of Dimes website, you’ll find downloadable cards to customize with your own calls for #BlanketChange: improved maternity care for all mothers and infants, and improved access to it.