Students offer food for thought

Students in the "Food Is Medicine" group shared information on nutrition and health at local farmers' markets.
Students who shared the message that “food is medicine” at Des Moines’ Downtown Farmers’ Market last season included Peter Fischer, D.O.’18; Nicole Zabrinas, D.O.’17; Zachary Johnson, D.O.’17; Rachel Joseph, D.O.’17; Huda Jarmakani, D.O.’17; and Christian Ryser, D.O.’18.

If we are what we eat, it seems wise to know all we can about what’s in our food. Sharing some of that knowledge was the goal of a group of DMU students who staffed a twice-monthly “Food Is Medicine” booth at Des Moines’ Downtown Farmers’ Market last season.

The students shared information and answered questions relating to nutrition and health. They handed out a newsletter that featured in-season fruits and vegetables and provided recipes that use them. They also invited kids to draw pictures of their favorite fruit or vegetable.

“We tried to make it fun and exciting, so it’s not like a person has to eat like a rabbit every day to be healthy,” says Zachary Johnson, D.O.’17.

That meant not lecturing people on what they should and shouldn’t put on their plates. “There’s a lot of shaming of people who are having trouble maintaining a healthy lifestyle,” says Food Is Medicine volunteer Nicole Zabrinas, D.O.’17. “People are told they have to lose weight or eat healthier, but they often don’t know how.”

To counter that, the students “focused on emphasizing healthy behaviors such as eating mainly fruits and vegetables, and being active every day,” says Pavla Nyklova, D.O.’17. The students’ efforts benefited more than just the people they talked with: “Having a booth at the farmers’ market allows us to meet people in the community and represent Des Moines University,” she adds.

Scroll to Top