The Connecticut Convergence Institute had a historical meeting last Thursday and Friday. The purpose of the meeting was to establish and discuss the Just Us Moving Program (JUMP) in St. Lucia. Dr. Cato T. Laurencin met with His Excellency Julian Dubois the Ambassador for Diaspora Affairs, Honorary Philip J. Pierre the Prime Minister, and Prisca Regis-Andrew the Dean, Department the Health, Wellness and Human Performance: Sir Arthur Lewis Community College. He also had the honor of having his UNESCO Africa Prize Award at the entrance which is now prominently displayed at the college entrance.
The JUMP meeting was successful because many health issues were discussed. In the last three decades, the dietary habits in Saint Lucia have been westernized and shifted from fruits and vegetables to a high-calorie-dense diet processed with refined sugar, sodium, and saturated fat. These ultra-processed foods lead to low nutritional quality and severe adverse health consequences. This has caused a rise in non-communicable diseases, including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. The Convergence Institutes’ JUMP team came up with innovative strategies and a more significant commitment to eliminate disparities within the communities and food system in Saint Lucia.
Thus, the pandemic has brought even more urgency to transitioning from processed, high-quantity, low-quality foods to wholesome nutrition based on fresh produce and whole foods. This partnership with Saint Lucia has launched ‘UConn JUMP Saint Lucia’ to educate Saint Lucian communities. This will provide more control over their food system, opportunities for families and youth to establish new eating habits, and, ultimately, a more just and fair food system. This initiative will improve the quality of life for the Saint Lucian population.
Based on the community health promotion experiences and successes in the UConn JUMP program in the United States, they advised a plan to partner with various community organizations. This includes non-profits and churches to reach the disfranchised communities in need, including youth, adults and seniors, and families.