On Nutrition: How to help feed Ukrainians

The flag of the International Red Cross flies as refugees fleeing Ukraine arrive at the Vysne Nemecke border crossing on March 13, 2022, in Vysne Nemecke, Slovakia. More than two million people have fled Ukraine into neighboring countries since Russia launched a large-scale invasion of the country on Feb. 24.
Christopher Furlong / TNS

I started this column with the intent to celebrate National Nutrition Month, a yearly event sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. I really like the theme, Celebrate a World of Flavors, which encourages us to nourish ourselves with a variety of tastes from cultures around our globe.

My heart, however, has taken a turn toward Ukraine as Ukrainians continue to suffer from the devastation of their homeland. In the midst of so much turmoil, the need for basics like food and supplies becomes paramount for these world citizens.

I did some digging to learn about common fare to the people of Ukraine. They are especially known for borscht, a beet soup that is also made with cabbage, carrots, potatoes and onions. A serving of this simple fare is rich in life-sustaining protein, energy-rich carbohydrates, plus calcium, potassium and other essential nutrients.

And now, sadly, I understand where chicken Kiev got its name. This chicken breast rolled around herbed butter is a famed dish with origins in Ukraine's capital city.

Farmers in Ukraine grow a fair amount of wheat, barley and corn. So it's not surprising that the country is also known for its breads, dumplings and corn dishes.


Early on, as with other cultures in our world, the people of Ukraine developed dishes from the foods that were most available to them. It highlights the proven fact that, while we humans have similar nutritional needs, we can meet those needs with a diverse array of foods and eating styles.

During this time of uncertainty, though, food is more than a meal. It can be comfort as well as sustenance for facing the challenges ahead. I have been struck by the work of so many volunteers who are on the front lines to feed and care for our world neighbors. Here are some reliable organizations if you would like to partner with their work:

American Red Cross ( volunteers provide food, water and other needed supplies to families on the move across Ukraine as well as the millions who are now refugees in surrounding countries.

Mercy Chefs ( are serving meals and water to refugees on the border as well as those trapped inside Ukraine.

Samaritans Purse ( is setting up an emergency field hospital in Ukraine to provide lifesaving food and medical care to those caught in this destruction.

European Christian Mission ( has created a Ukraine Crisis Fund to provide food and basic resources to those trying to survive this emergency.

And let us also remember to nourish ourselves so we can assist others. If you need help, go to and click the tab that says Find a Nutrition Expert. And please continue to pray for our world neighbors.

Barbara Intermill is a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified diabetes educator affiliated with the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. Email her at to  . ©2021 MediaNews Group, Inc. Visit at  . Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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