Volunteer Highlight: Lindsey Miller

Masters of Public Health student Lindsey Miller joined as our teacher for the Cooking Matters class @ Alliance this summer!  Cooking Matters @ Alliance is offered in partnership with Inter-Faith Food Shuttle.

Lindsey led the six-week cooking and nutrition course that helps Alliance patients plan, shop, and cook healthy, nutritious, affordable, and delicious meals.

“I am a firm believer that everybody deserves the right to be healthy, including access to nutrition and cooking literacy, fresh affordable foods, and the confidence and knowledge to be physically active. But most of all, I believe everyone has the right to be a part of a community and that's what Alliance Medical Ministry and the Cooking Matters Curriculum does so well.”

Lindsey, a North Carolina native, attended Appalachian State University where she studied Health Promotion and Sociology. Following the completion of her undergraduate studies, Lindsey was employed by Bounty & Soul. Bounty & Soul is a non-profit outside of Asheville, North Carolina that provides health education, cooking literacy, and fresh produce at no cost to community members. Her passion for food access and nutrition education in rural communities flourished during her time in Asheville. After some time working with Bounty & Soul, Lindsey decided to pursue a long-time dream of serving in the Peace Corps.  She lived in a rural village in Botswana working with community members to implement various programs focusing on HIV/AIDS prevention and education needs. Although Lindsey was working in an HIV/AIDS programs, she noticed that most conversations circled back to nutrition. It was apparent that this population expressed the desire and need to learn more about healthy eating, sustainable gardening methods, and cooking education.

With the completion of her time in Botswana, Lindsey found herself back in Raleigh in a time of transition. A friend invited her to the Raleigh Environmental Awards, and this was where she first heard about Alliance Medical Ministry. The speaker discussed Alliance’s work with the teaching garden. Soon after, Lindsey introduced herself to Jesse Crouch, Alliance Garden and Wellness Coordinator, and asked how she could get involved.

"I'm incredibly thankful for the opportunity to work with Jesse and the interns on implementing this curriculum.  I feel as if I learned more from the participants and Jesse than I could have ever taught them and am very appreciative of that dynamic nature."

Lindsey explained that it is hard to identify one single barrier people face with eating healthy foods, as most families and individuals have their own reasons.  Based on the conversations from this particular class of Cooking Matters Participants, the main hurdles were the cultural norms or expectations. This was especially true in a setting like a large family gathering.  When certain foods have deeply rooted value in families, it's very difficult to change the way you eat while still upholding respect for your culture and family. 

"Of course financial barriers are present. Many families find themselves working 1-3 jobs to be able to pay the bills and provide food for their family.  At the end of the day sacrifices are made to be able to put healthy fresh food on the table. That's why Alliance Medical Ministry and programs like Cooking Matters is so beneficial.  Not only does it educate families on how to eat and cook in nutritious ways, but also how to purchase healthy foods on a budget, proper storage of foods, and even includes a grocery store tour to apply the knowledge learned throughout the class"

Now that Lindsey’s time with us has come to a close, she is heading to New Orleans to pursue her Masters of Public Health Nutrition at Tulane University.

Alliance wishes Lindsey the best of luck in all of her personal and professional goals!