The FAN (Faith, Activity, Nutrition) program is a partnership between the Palmetto Conference of African Methodist Episcopal (AME) churches, University of South Carolina, Medical University of South Carolina, and Clemson University. This multifaceted intervention is aimed at improving the overall health of South Carolinians attending AME churches. The two main areas of focus are physical activity and healthy eating. CU CHEFS® designed an interactive, hands-on culinary nutrition intervention for this particular population, centering on their nutrition needs and food preferences. The intervention is delivered to the AME cooks in one, eight-hour day training session and presented by a professional chef and nutrition educator. The main objective of the training is to impact the eating and cooking habits of cooks by encouraging vegetable and fruit consumption, lowering sodium usage, decreasing fats, and increasing whole grains. By working alongside professionals, the cooks are provided the knowledge and skills necessary to prepare healthy, tasteful foods that nourish and satisfy the needs of their congregations as well as themselves.
Churches represent an ideal environment for identifying and addressing health problems within the congregation through a supportive network of prayer, support and trust. Since church cooks are viewed as the authority on cooking within the church and have the ability to influence many people with the meals they prepare, they are the target of a culturally-tailored intervention. Using a culturally-tailored, interactive and hands-on training that focuses on the nutritional needs of the specific congregation, a successful intervention may improve health disparities often associated specific congregations.