Nourish Family Kit in Yokosuka, Japan

Elaina Ortiz serves as Head of Nutrition Management at the US Naval Hospital in Yokosuka, Japan. She led a six-week pilot program of the Nourish Family Kit, a new multimedia resource designed to increase food literacy in the home. The Family Kit contains videos, recipes and games that open a meaningful conversation about the “story of our food.”

Food literacy and nutritional ecology are deep passions of mine. The Nourish Family Kit offered the perfect opportunity to expand my outreach goals at the US Naval Base here in Yokosuka, Japan. Through collaboration with Public Affairs and the military spouses’ organization, we quickly enrolled 36 eager families.

At our initial orientation, we reviewed the menu of weekly activities and then dug into the treasures of the Family Kit. We played “Talk-Draw-Act,” a fast-paced guessing game all about food. It was amazing to watch parents and children laughing and playing together. Like many of the resources in the Family Kit, this game plays a vital role in opening a conversation about food, health, and sustainability.

Just one day after the orientation, a mother informed me that her son had chosen a salad rather than a corn dog for dinner the night before. Another parent saw me in the commissary and shared how their whole family was enjoying the Kit so much that they now planned a special “Nourish Day” more than once per week.

After the six-week pilot phase, I contacted participants by phone and e-mail to get a sense of their experience using the Family Kit. As one parent wrote: “This wonderful kit not only taught so many valuable lessons about food and shopping, it also brought my whole family together around the dinner table and in the kitchen preparing meals together again.”

It has been a distinct honor to contribute to this innovative program. The Family Kit enables me to reach our service members, their families and our supporting community in a positive, life-affirming way. Our families are now making healthy food choices that truly “nourish” them.

Another great reason to be Navy proud.

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