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How Thelma’s Kitchen is Using Food to Improve Mental Health

Food for Thoughts

A customer selects food at Thelma's Kitchen.
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Mental health and nutrition, two topics that aren’t commonly connected, are getting renewed attention in Kansas City.

Father Justin Mathews, executive director for Reconciliation Services and Thelma’s Kitchen at 31st Street and Troost Avenue, sees the connection between how we eat and how we feel on a daily basis.

“It’s really not just about giving away food,” Mathews said. “That is a means of building a relationship where we then have the privilege to be able to walk with somebody who is going through a mental health crisis.”

Dr. Leigh Wagner, a local nutritionist and dietician, also sees the connection between food and mental health outcomes. She is particularly concerned about the highly processed foods that are so prevalent in the United States.

“We. like, forget that our brain is connected to the rest of our body,” Wagner said.

“Look, food is medicine. It’s a part of our mental health. It’s a part of our bodily health,” Mathews said. “And if you don’t have access to the food that you need, you’re not going to have the kind of a healthy life that you can have.”

To learn more about the food and mental health connection, watch the attached video. And don’t miss the premiere of “The Hidden Pandemic” tonight at 7 p.m. on Kansas City PBS.

Coverage of “The Hidden Pandemic” is made possible with the support of William T. Kemper Foundation – Commerce Bank, Trustee, Hall Family Foundation and Marlese & Robert Gourley.

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