Children’s helps bring healthy food to the community

by Tripp Underwood on August 18, 2011

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ve probably heard plenty of healthcare experts stressing the importance of eating healthy food like fresh fruits and vegetables. The message may sound a little repetitive at times, but it’s important advice; whole, unprocessed foods  are not only good for our bodies, but for our waistlines too. And as obesity continues to dramatically affect the health of millions of Americans, it’s clear that more of us need pay closer attention to what the experts are saying.

But for many Americans, the shift towards eating healthy food isn’t so easy. Adding more greens to the grocery list is good advice, but it’s easier said than done for a lot of people. The high cost and limited availability of fresh fruits and vegetables in some areas makes them practically unobtainable to a substantial portion of the population.

To help ease the financial burden associated with healthy foods and green living, Children’s Hospital Boston is currently participating in a program that makes fresh fruits and vegetables more available to Boston residents. The Farm to Family program is connecting families from Children’s Martha Eliot Health Center with local farmers, who deliver bags of fresh fruit and vegetables to the center once a week. The program is being offered through a partnership with the Food Project and the MEHC and is subsidized by a generous hospital donor. Each week families receive a variety of fruits and vegetables along with a newsletter that explains what was harvested  and recipes on how to prepare the food.

“The Farm to Family program provides healthy food options to families at their local community health center, which may not otherwise be available to them,” says Children’s director of Community Outreach Deborah Dickerson. “By offering new recipes every week, the program also helps families find new ways to serve these fruits and vegetables to their children.”

This  20 week pilot program will be evaluated  in the fall to determine if the families found the program helpful and if this health center based access made it easier for them to include healthy options in their meals.

“Our goal is to work with as many people as we can and show them that with a few changes, they can see real improvements in their family’s lives,” Dickerson says. “And it’s important to note that these changes should be for the whole family, not just the kids.”

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