Jaelene Dismuke’s Personal Mission: Advocating for Increases in Nutrition Security

Poetry can help writers express emotions and share personal experiences and for DFW native Jaelene Dismuke, it led to uncovering a personal connection to nutrition insecurity and sparked a passion for change. After years as a dedicated volunteer throughout North Texas for the American Heart Association, a global force for longer, healthier lives. Dismuke was named to the Association’s 2023-24 Advocacy Coordinating Committee.

hero_image_alt_text===Jaelene Dismuke and family
thumbnail_alt_text===Jaelene Dismuke and family

The Advocacy Coordinating Committee is a committee of the Association’s National Board of Directors and is the primary volunteer committee responsible for establishing the Association’s public policy agenda, policy positions and annual priorities at all levels of government. The committee provides ongoing guidance and feedback on the Association’s advocacy agenda and is responsible for evaluating the effectiveness and success of the Association’s advocacy efforts.   

As a young child, Dismuke didn’t realize her nutrition was suffering until later in life. “I don’t think I fully understood the gravity of the situation,” Dismuke said. “It wasn’t like we didn’t have food, but we didn’t have consistent, nutritious meals.”

During a writing assignment as a part of the poetry team in high school, Dismuke and two other teammates penned a poem called “You Know What Hunger Looks Like” that began to unlock her understanding of her upbringing. “We dispelled a lot of myths of what people think hunger is,” shared Dismuke. “Most associated it with poverty in third world countries or areas that don’t have a lot of money. But the reality is one in six people deal with hunger. It goes beyond zip codes.”

Dismuke and her fellow Committee members will provide leadership and strategic direction to the Association in the development, implementation and support of a sound global, national, state and community-based advocacy program.

Poor nutrition plays a major role in serious long-term illness, including cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes, according to a 2022 American Heart Association Policy Statement: Strengthening U.S. Food Policies and Programs to Promote Equity in Nutrition Security.

“I don’t think I realized until the beginning of college, why it was important to have well-rounded meals,” said Dismuke. “As an athlete, once I really learned how to fuel my body, I learned how to optimize my performance.”

A new mom to 8-month old Kru, the importance of nutrition has only deepened for Dismuke. “I do plan on making sure he is aware of what he is putting into his body,” she said. “when I was pregnant, I knew that the more I consumed of every food category, the likelihood of my baby dealing with illnesses or diseases later down the line went down.”

According to the Association’s Presidential Advisory on Food Is Medicine published in September the Association’s flagship scientific journal Circulation, an estimated 90% of the $4.3 trillion annual cost of health care in the U.S. is spent on medical care for chronic diseases. Unhealthy food intake is a major risk factor for many of these diseases. Healthy food is not accessible or affordable for many people in the U.S., making it difficult to apply clinical food-based interventions that treat and prevent disease.

“Heart-healthy individuals are such a worthy cause. I want to continue to advocate and be the change I want to see while encouraging others, especially our youth, to help champion change with the American Heart Association.”

To get involved in advocating for public policies that are helping the Association achieve its mission to become a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives visit YouretheCure.org.

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