By Jamil Oakford/managing editor
Rain didn’t deter community members from learning healthy twists on traditional soul food recipes or getting free health screenings and other resources at a Tarrant County health fair April 21.
The African-American Health Expo, held in South Campus’ gym, provided information to attendees about how to improve their health and what could help them achieve that goal.
The Blue Zone Project helped organize a cooking demonstration using a well-known soul food ingredient: black-eyed peas.
Bernard’s vegetable protein relish put a healthy twist on a legume typically eaten in high-fat ways. Using tofu, tomatoes, olives, orange zest, lemon juice, red onion and various herbs, viewers learned how to make a relish that was both healthy and vegan.
“The ingredients that were used were interesting,” African-American Expo board member Bertha Cole said. “Some of them you don’t think about using, like cilantro, parsley. But I cook frozen black-eyed peas all the time.”
While it was a different taste from what she’s used to, she said it was still good.
“It’s healthy, so it’s worth a try,” Cole said.
Several other cooking demonstrations were held throughout the day, trying to show how to prepare healthy meals that also taste good.
Because of health disparities within the African-American community, many of the organizations and groups participating were concerned with how to help people improve their quality of life.
The City of Fort Worth’s Knowhat2do emergency preparedness group gave out information and several prizes like umbrellas, hand-cranked radios and power banks.
Randy Westerman, Fort Worth’s Emergency Management public education coordinator, said it’s important to be prepared for anything, including the most common hazard everyone will have to face.
“Severe weather is the number one hazard,” he said. “It happens all the time in the spring as well as in the summer. And then in the winter, we have ice storms.”
The goal is to help people think about how to make a plan during emergencies before they happen, Westerman said.
“The better prepared you are, the greatest chance you have of staying safe,” he said.
The expo also provided two tables where attendees could register to vote.
The Democratic Party’s voter registration head Jimmy Killingsworth said it was imperative to reach out to the community at the event.
“We need to vote in our city elections, for our school board, city council,” he said.
Gloria Cabral and Bertha Aviles of Fort Worth said they enjoyed the event.
“I learned so much from the nutritional standpoint,” Cabral said. “One of the tables talked about vending machines in schools and how unhealthy those options are. I didn’t think about that before.”
Aviles was surprised to learn about her body fat at the expo.
“I wasn’t expecting to learn how much I had,” she said. “They measured it, and they offered me this program where I can do it for two weeks free.”
Felecia McAfee of Fort Worth was also very happy with her experience at the event.
“Healthy eating and good things on cancer prevention helped me put things in perspective,” McAfee said.
She was able to pick up books for her grandchildren, both teenaged and younger, and learn about how to feed children.
“It [the expo] taught me how to start feeding your kids early so they don’t get hooked on this fast food,” McAfee said.
Free health screenings helped people learn their kidney function in 15 minutes as well as help attendees learn if they are at risk for diabetes and other health issues that can lead to kidney failure and other life-threatening illnesses.