Healthy Memphis Initiative is using culinary medicine to help Memphians live better and longer

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By Cole Bradley, for High Ground News

Anyone who’s visited the Crosstown Concourse has likely seen the Church Health Nutrition Hub. It’s the ultra-modern teaching kitchen that sits behind glass walls in the building’s West Atrium.

Its mission is to teach people how to heal and maintain health through nutrition. The kitchen is part of a larger strategy to address Memphis’ most pervasive and chronic health challenges.

Healthy Memphis Initiative brings together local stakeholders from major medical institutions to individual community members. They’re pooling expertise and resources to examine chronic challenges from multiple perspectives and create more effective, holistic strategies for change. 

Church Health

“A lot of times here in Memphis and Shelby County, it can be very siloed. Everyone’s in their own corner doing their own thing,” said Fedoria Rugless. “We have a much greater impact if we come together and address some of these common issues and common goals within the region.”

Rugless leads the Healthy Memphis Initiative. She’s also director of research for Church Health and a research assistant professor in the University of Memphis’ School of Health Studies.

HMI’s partners share a few broad goals like reducing chronic disease, addressing healthcare disparities, and improving social determinants of health.

Rugless said no conversion around health in Memphis can ignore disparities and the barriers they create. Things like racial inequities, poverty, trauma, andchronically inadequate healthcare and transportation create barriers to preventative care and treatments.

A collaborative approach is necessary to consider all of the variables that affect people’s ability to take basic steps towards better health like reducing stress, staying active, and eating well.

“All of those components make up the whole person,” said Rugless.


Teaching people how to eat for health is known as culinary medicine.

At the Nutrition Hub, culinary medicine means lectures, cooking classes, and diet planning. They offer classes for the general public and can tailor those offerings for specific groups like diabetics, athletes, and kids. Keep reading>>

Feature Image: The Church Health Nutrition Hub has classes for community members, people with diabetes, athletes, and more. (Church Health)

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