Taste for Nourish

Guests sample appetizers at the 2012 Taste for Nourish event.

Courtesy of Nourish

Not all families savor dinner time.

For some families, mealtimes mean showdowns, with anxieties and other feeding challenges in children spotlighted.

That’s why the local nonprofit Nourish hosts an annual short film festival — to give these families a platform.

“It raises awareness for kids with feeding difficulties and challenges,” said Mandy Carlsen, a co-founder of Nourish and its partner agency Mealtime Connections. “Unless you have a child who has feeding difficulties and challenges like they can’t nurse or physically eat, then you may not know how impactful feeding challenges can be. But when you think about it during the day, adults eat three to five times a day and infants eat eight to 12 times a day. It consumes your life.”

The local nonprofit Nourish supports these families by providing scholarships for dietitian services, feeding therapy and expensive equipment — needs that many insurance plans won’t cover.

The proceeds from the seventh annual Taste for Nourish film festival go toward funding those scholarships.

“Health care, as we all know, it’s ever-changing, and it’s hard for these families, and I think back to when we started Nourish,” Carlsen said. “In 2010 and 2011, families were coming to us with what we thought were ridiculously high deductibles of $5,000, and now fast forward and we have families coming to us with $10,000 to $13,000 deductibles, and that’s common.”

Carlsen said that feeding challenges often indicate deeper problems and may be a parent’s first sign that something is amiss.

Nourish supports children and families with a variety of feeding issues, from babies born unable to suck and swallow to children with cleft lips and palates in need of special bottles to kids with significant food allergies. Genetic and developmental issues such as autism or Down syndrome can also impair a child’s ability or willingness to eat, Carlsen said.

“If you’re not eating, you’re not thriving, and it’s one of those life and death situations,” she said. “And parents for good reason get concerned, and they should be.”

The admission price to the film festival includes heavy appetizers and desserts from local businesses including Blue Willow, Cakes for Causes and others. Attendees can also bid on silent auction goodies such as tickets to Disneyland and a stay at a local resort.

All of the short films will be food-related, so you’ll be glad to have something to nibble.

Contact reporter Johanna Willett at jwillett@tucson.com or 573-4357. On Twitter: @JohannaWillett

Writing about Tucson's heart and soul — its people, its kindness, its faith — for #ThisIsTucson.