The Physicians Committee’s Food for Life plant-based nutrition and cooking class program made a big impact in communities around the globe in 2022. The Changing Lives: Food for Life 2022 Community Impact Report showcases the more than 300 instructors who taught a record number of classes, reaching more participants and more diverse groups than ever before.
In 2022, the Food for Life program’s 332 instructors or institutions in 32 countries—including the United States in 47 states—taught 1,536 classes to 12,700 participants who raved about their experience. In fact, 95% of surveyed participants gave the classes the top rating of “very good.”
“I participated in every single Food for Life nutrition and cooking class that Debbie taught through the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine,” said Hope Powell, a participant in classes taught by Debbie Zimmerman of Lakeland, Fla. “Since that time, I have lost 60 pounds, and I feel so much healthier. I sleep better and have no joint pain like before.”
When asked about changes they would make to their diets as a result of taking the Food for Life classes, a whopping 91% of surveyed participants said they would consume more fruits, vegetables, grains, or beans, and a majority also said they would consume fewer meat and dairy products.
The Food for Life program also expanded its reach to historically underserved communities disproportionately affected by health disparities. In 2022 compared with 2021, the program’s overall reach to people of color increased by 133%. The program also added the African American Culinary Heritage curriculum, which had a significant impact on the 80% of participants who were not plant-based at the start of the course: 80% started or planned to try eating plant-based by the end of the course.
In 2021, the Food for Life instructor training first offered scholarships to applicants who demonstrated both that they were financially in need and committed to teaching classes to communities disproportionately impacted by health disparities, including to communities of color. Those scholarship recipients taught more than 270 Food for Life classes in 2022, reaching 2,400 class participants—65% of whom were people of color.
Charles Smith, a scholarship recipient from Mississippi, taught 49 classes that reached 1,366 class participants.
“As I started to try cooking the various meals that Mr. Smith prepared, I started to develop a taste for plant-based cooking, and I now enjoy it,” says Pam Carter, a participant in Food for Life classes taught by Smith. “From a personal perspective, my blood pressure medicine has been lowered, and I have lost 10 pounds. So I can only leave you with the words of our great instructor, Mr. Charles Smith: ‘Your HEALTH is your wealth.’”
Brenda Workman, a scholarship recipient from West Virginia who taught 25 classes that reached 216 class participants, recently shared her own plant-based health success story on Today.
In late 2022, the Food for Life program trained 68 new instructors and institutions from nine countries, and the program is now accepting applications for the 2023 instructor training that begins on Sept. 19.
This year, the Food for Life program is committed to reaching even more people about the benefits of plant-based foods and the relationship to both healthy living and long-term health outcomes.
Download the Changing Lives: Food for Life 2022 Community Impact Report or read below: