Heidi Davis builds community while tackling food insecurity

June 01, 2017

“The community teaching kitchen is a source of pride for me. We all share a common love for food. It is a collaborative learning environment where we provide support and care without judgment.”

Heidi Davis is a patient navigator for the community teaching kitchen at Providence Milwaukie Hospital. She works as a compassionate guide who listens and connects patients with resources to meet nutrition goals.

What is the community teaching kitchen?

The community teaching kitchen is a space for those who are food insecure and looking to improve their eating habits. Patients are referred to us by their physicians and depending on their situation and needs we may suggest taking a community cooking class, meeting with a registered dietitian or attending the family market for emergency food supplies.

We offer six-week long cooking classes led by volunteer Providence chefs and dietitians. We help patients incorporate fresh healthy food into their diets and encourage them to recreate the recipes at home. We even provide the ingredients to do so!

What is the impact of a program like this? 

Many of the people who attend our classes have had little to no access to fresh food and are often hesitant when they enter the kitchen.

I had a patient who had never eaten broccoli before. She referred to it as “the little green trees.” After giving it a try she fell in love. In fact, every time she comes to the family market she gets a bag for her family.

Why is the community teaching kitchen important to you? 

It is true compassion in action. Not only are we helping patients’ lead healthier lives, but we are creating a sense of community.

Many of the folks who come in are dealing with depression and isolation and still commit to coming back each week because the kitchen is a safe space for them.

Here’s a note from one of my students:

The class Tuesday was over the top of exceeding my expectations. I have a lot of childhood trauma around cooking and the kitchen, so to be in a safe environment and be learning about nourishing my body is a GOD SEND!!! The three bags of healthy groceries was such a surprise too. I got so much out of the class and can’t believe I get 5 more. Thanks so much for all your effort getting me into this class. I appreciate it IMMENSELY!!!

Learn more 

For more information about the Community Teaching Kitchen, contact Heidi Davis.