The key to reaching out to underserved, eligible Latino communities in need of nutrition assistance is to find trusted leaders from within the community itself. The Minnesota-based organization Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio (CLUES) has effectively adopted an outreach model that achieves grassroots impact through a holistic promotores (community health workers) model. CLUES is a La Mesa Completa partner whose mission is to provide a network of support for Hispanic individuals facing crisis. To help Latinos in need, they have developed a unique family-centric coordinated care delivery model based on the idea that the family and the home are valuable support assets.
CLUES elects trusted community leaders to be promotores and trains them on how to deliver information about nutrition education and healthy eating, obesity and diabetes prevention, and the importance of physical activity through one-on-one home visits. These Latino promotores have become the bridge between the people and federal, state and local resources and institutions they refer them to, which is why establishing a relationship of trust is crucial.
Additionally, the CLUES team gets help from promotores spreading the word about their home visits and nutrition workshops by attending events at community centers, churches and parks. CLUES holds presentations focused on the different food groups of the MyPlate/MiPlato icon and uses colors and comparative visuals to teach people how to eat, cook and shop in healthy and affordable ways. Cesar Orjuela, Program Manager, emphasized the usefulness of the MiPlato icon as a simple and interactive tool that is adaptable to the Latino food culture.
Over the years CLUES has realized the importance of partnering with churches to spread the word, and of finding leaders who are Hispanic and Spanish-speaking. CLUES attributes its success to their promotores, who are a testament on how committed leaders can come together to help those who are most in need.
“The success has been grounded in looking for community leaders that are truly involved. Any person can be a promotor, but someone who not only recognizes the needs of the community but is also recognized by the community because he or she is a part of it, will be truly successful,” Orjuela said.