Special to the Register
The Kentucky Environmental Foundation and Mujeres Unidas (United Women) are teaming up to sponsor a BPA-free dinner at St. Thomas Lutheran Church in Richmond tonight from 5 to 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
Kentucky Safe Foods Project Coordinator Melinda Alcorn will speak on the importance of safe and healthy foods for Kentucky families during the meal.
Kentucky ranks as one of the worst states for adult and childhood obesity, Alcorn said, conditions that can be prevented but are aggravated by chemicals in food.
“Chemicals such as BPA, which is often found in canned foods and sodas, transform into fat cells and change our metabolism rates,” she said. “So it’s not only about diet and exercise; it’s also about avoiding harmful chemicals in food. As a mother, I want to promote safer and healthier foods for both myself and my family. I know others do, too.”
BPA, or Bisphenol-A, is a chemical used as a lining in metal food containers that leaches into the food product. It has also been used in plastics such as polycarbonate water bottles, sippy cups and baby bottles. The chemical has been linked to increased rates of cancer, reproductive disorders, developmental disabilities, diabetes, heart disease and many other health problems, according to the KEF.
The purpose of the Kentucky Safe Foods Project is to educate Kentuckians on the link between BPA exposure and health, and to work with sustainable foods and health organizations collaboratively to reduce exposures to achieve better health outcomes, including on obesity, Alcorn said. Coordinated by the Kentucky Environmental Foundation, the project provides information to families on what they can do to reduce BPA exposures, and encourages industry and legislators to find and use safer substitutes for BPA in products.
Numerous health studies have shown that a reduction of canned food consumption results in a dramatic decrease in BPA levels, which accumulate in the body, Alcorn said. Eating foods that are fresh and local, packaged in bags (such as dried or frozen foods) or preserved in glass jars are better options for families who want to limit their intake of toxic chemicals, she added.
Mujeres Unidas, led by Sandra Anez Powell, is composed of women from Central America whose goal is to learn skills that can help them become economically independent. Many of these women were underemployed and eager to improve their skills and job prospects.
Women receive training in sewing skills, crochet, and jewelry. The program also focuses on housing assistance and self-development. Participants also take English classes. Mujeres Unidas provides the only place where members of this self-help group can receive training in their native language and at a time that does not interfere with their daytime work schedules.