SRF049: Promoting Community Engagement through Virtual Healthy Cooking Sessions during Ramadan and COVID-19 Pandemic
Elizabeth Stewart; Fozia Ali, MD
Context: Community-centered care and healthful habits are cornerstones of primary care. Nutrition was identified as a top priority in needs assessments that were conducted at the El Bari Community Health Center (CHC) Fair in 2019. UT Health San Antonio and El Bari CHC developed small group didactic sessions about healthy living. During the COVID-19 pandemic and Ramadan, virtual healthy cooking sessions were held to promote continued community engagement. Objective: To promote community engagement through virtual cooking sessions, and to assess community feedback regarding healthy choices and mindfulness during Ramadan and COVID-19 pandemic. Human Subjects Review: Determined no IRB approval required; not regulated research as defined by DHHS and FDA regulations. Protocol Number: HSC20200340N. Design: Virtual healthy cooking sessions were conducted via Zoom. Mixed method (qualitative and quantitative) data was collected through REDCap survey. Setting: San Antonio. Participants: Community members (age 18 & above), predominantly South Asian. Intervention/Instrument: 3 weekly virtual healthy cooking sessions with culturally-relevant healthy meals (April and May 2020). REDCap survey, including demographics, questionnaire regarding healthy choices, and qualitative feedback on sessions. Main and Secondary Outcome Measures: (1) Promote wellness and community engagement during; (2) Assess community healthy choices and mindfulness practices during Ramadan and COVID-19 pandemic. Results: Among 93 survey participants (71% female, 29% male), 16% of respondents reported exercising 0 times per week. 17% of respondents reported eating >3 servings of protein per day. 7.5% reported eating the recommended daily serving of fruits and vegetables. Qualitative feedback listed lack of exercise, snacking, social distancing, and poor sleep schedule among primary challenges. Increasing vegetables and lean protein, mindful portion sizes, more exercise, and making changes to traditional recipes were reported as behavior changes following our sessions. More live sessions, a website or blog, and more traditional recipes with healthy substitutions were requested. Conclusions: (1) Community engagement is possible and sustainable during COVID-19 with a community-based model; (2) COVID-19 pandemic and Ramadan present unique challenges to healthy living; (3) Further engagement is needed with a focus on increasing fruit, vegetable, and lean protein consumption, exercise, and mindful portions.