By Ana Martinez-Ortiz, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service   Published Mar 05, 2019 at 3:06 PM

For the past few years, Cross Lutheran Church at 1821 N. 16th St. has been trying to educate community members on the importance of eating healthy. The church serves residents living in 53205, one of the poorest ZIP codes in Milwaukee.

Linda Radder, a faith community nurse, has been at the church for nearly 15 years. During that time, Radder noticed that community members often worked multiple jobs and, as a result, chose to eat fast-food items for their convenience.

The church wanted to change that and began looking for ways to offer nutrition classes for the adults participating in the Adult Center and Men’s Wellness Group and for students at Shalom High School nearby.

"Many people want to eat differently," she said, but they don’t know where to begin.

The church began hosting cooking classes, and when those classes ended, the church continued to look for ways to serve its community.

Recently, the church’s program, Bread of Healing Empowerment Ministry, received a Nutrition Education Grant. It was one of eight organizations in Milwaukee to receive the grant from co-sponsors Kohl’s Healthy Families and the American Cancer Society.

The recipients of the grants, which totaled $200,000, ranged from clinics and schools to faith-based organizations. Chosen for their diversity, the recipients included groups such as The Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers, Groundwork Milwaukee and Southeast Asian Educational Development of Wisconsin. Sponsors hope to reach 3,000 individuals through the recipients’ efforts.

Radder said that Cross Lutheran Church first partnered with the American Cancer Society and Kohl’s Healthy Families in 2016 through its HEALE Program, which stands for healthy eating and active living environments.

Through the grant, the church plans to offer cooking classes, in which participants can learn how to make their favorite recipes healthier. It will also offer nutrition education programs to adults and students. It hopes to engage 300 people in some form of nutrition education.