MLK Health Center in Shreveport adds 'culinary medicine' capability

May 6, 2015

Shreveport charity health clinic, the MLK Health Center and Pharmacy, has developed a community garden and outdoor exercise area adjacent to its building.

Kale is planted in the new community garden at MLK Health Center. The first cooking demonstration in the garden last week showed how to make kale chips, in partnership with Shreveport Green's Mobile Markets program.
Credit Kate Archer Kent

The Everyday Choices Community Garden and Learning Center was made possible through a $35,966 donation from energy giant BHP Billiton. A check presentation was held Tuesday in the garden. The move will further expand MLK Health Center’s services, according to executive director Janet Mentesane.

“It’ll be basically like a culinary medicine program. We’re going to have vegetable prescriptions, exercise prescriptions, and when some of our patients are waiting between appointments or waiting for prescriptions to be filled they can come out here and engage in an exercise class or harvest some vegetables,” Mentesane said.

This is BHP Billiton’s first grant to MLK Health Center and Pharmacy. Community affairs specialist in Shreveport Peggy Ramey says this donation aligns with the company’s core values.

“It combines the physical, mental and nutritional aspect all in one. Also, it’s fun to be able to get outside and enjoy gardening and exercising. It lifts spirits as well,” Ramey said.

MLK Health Center is partnering with Shreveport Green’s Mobile Markets for monthly cooking demonstrations in the garden. As part of the grant, the health clinic also will partner with LSU Shreveport’s kinesiology department to create workout programs in the outdoor exercise space. Mentesane says the facility serves about 1,400 patients and 500 pharmacy users.