‘Meals for Health’ program at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services a resounding success

By SUSAN LAIRD, Valley Community Newspapers editor

During April, Whole Foods Market partnered with the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services and EarthSave to teach a group of low-income Sacramento residents a healthier way to eat. Participants celebrated with a “graduation ceremony” on May 7.
Whole Foods Market partnered with the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services and the non-profit EarthSave organization to sponsor a “Meals for Health” program that taught low-income Sacramento residents how to improve their lives through healthier food choices and exercise. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Susan Laird

Whole Foods Market partnered with the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services and the non-profit EarthSave organization to sponsor a “Meals for Health” program that taught low-income Sacramento residents how to improve their lives through healthier food choices and exercise. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Susan Laird

The “Meals for Health” educational program involved lectures from national leaders in the “plant-strong” and “whole foods” areas of nutrition and exercise, physician supervision and boxes of healthy foods. It was an inaugural program at the food bank that organizers hope to learn from…and to hopefully “roll out” nationwide.

According to EarthSave, which provided the curriculum for the program, “hunger and obesity are often flip sides of the same malnutrition coin. Both hunger and obesity can be symptoms of poverty. Obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, bowel diseases, arthritis and a host of other degenerative conditions are rampant in communities experiencing food insecurity. Being poor and having serious health problems create nearly insurmountable obstacles to success.”

EarthSave is a nonprofit non-profit organization dedicated to helping people “make food choices that promote health, reduce health care costs and provide greater health independence.”

Participants learned from national nutrition leaders and speakers on topics such as “The Starch Solution,” “The Amazing Digestive System,” “The Pleasure Trap,” “How to Eat Whole – and Why Should I?” and “Healthy Living Made Easy.”

The results from the four week program were astonishing.

Not only did every single participant graduate from the program (organizers had anticipated up to a 30 percent dropout rate) – they thrived. On average, each of the 21 participants:

  • Dropped 30 points in total cholesterol
  • Dropped 21 points in LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • Dropped 7 points in fasting blood sugar
  • Lost 17 pounds
  • Dropped 10.4/10.3 points in blood pressure

Dr. Donald Forrester, supervising physician, noted that all participants had improved skin tone, a reduced (or eliminated) need for medication, a better sense of balance and an overall better sense of well-being. Several participants, who started the program on canes, graduated on their own two feet – no walking aids necessary. One diabetic observer, who followed the guidelines for the program along with the participants, dropped 100 points in fasting blood sugar – without medication.

“No one had any complaints about the program,” Forrester said.

The Sacramento Whole Foods Market located at the corner of Arden Way and Eastern Avenue donated over $5,000 worth of whole food products that participants learned how to prepare and enjoy.

“Whole Foods Market is an active participant in the local community,” said Christina Clarke, marketing team leader for Whole Foods. “Our core values at Whole Foods Market include caring about our communities and promoting the health of our stakeholders through healthy eating education. The Meals for Health Program is a great way for (us) to support community members and show our commitment to promoting healthy eating education.”

“Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services is thrilled to partner with Earth Save on the wonderfully successful and impactful Meals for Health program,” said Kelly Siefkin, communications director for the facility. “The results participants earned through modifications in their diet are tremendous. We hope to teach many individuals who access programs at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services about the benefits of eating a plant-based diet and the simple steps they can take to positively impact the health of their family.”

Leaders at EarthSave concur.

“I want to thank you for all sticking with it,” John Robbins, founder of EarthSave, told the graduates. “It’s your example that will speak to people. You are now on a pathway to health and increased opportunities. Once your eyes are opened to something – you ‘can’t not see it.’ Eating healthfully is one of the most compassionate things you can do for yourself.”

For more information and videos about the Meals for Health program in Sacramento, visit EarthSave’s website at www.EarthSave.org.

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6 comments so far

  1. Richard Schwartz

    As president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America, I was very happy to read this article and learn about this successful program. I want to pint out that plant-based dirts are most consistent with religious mandates to preserve human health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources and help hungry people and that animal -based diets and agriculture are causing an epidemic of diseases and contributing significantly to climate change and other environmental problems that threaten all of humanity. I believe it is essential that the we address these issues to help shift our imperiled planet to a sustainable path.

    For further information about Jewish teachings on vegetarianism, please see my over 140 articles and 25 podcasts and book “Judaism and Vegetarianism” at JewishVeg.com/schwartz and please see our acclaimed documentary “A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World” at ASacedDuty.com.

  2. Jeff Kildahl CWC, ND, PhD

    This pilot program will inspire others to make lasting lifestyle changes.

    The far-reaching benefits of plant-based nutrition can no longer be dismissed by neither the medical community nor policymakers.The staggering statistics do not lie. It is the catalyst for health care reform.

    Eating foods to which we are biologically-adapted to consume will reverse and prevent [in most cases] the chronic diseases afflicting North America. It simply requires discipline and accountability.

    I commend Jeff and Sabrina Nelson, Julieanna Hever MS, RD, CPT , the health coaches, and volunteers for their tireless effort. I thank the participants for taking action respective to their health.

    Mindful living will cultivate the requisite awareness to honor personal and planetary health. It depends how much value each person places on each entity.


  3. Dondi

    What an awesome result! Now if we can get government food programs to provide healthy food choices to low income families. How much better would that be?

  4. Gail

    Fantastic! I hope news of the success of this program will spread like wildfire and that similar programs will spread all across the country!

  5. Kathy Lee

    Awesome! Congratulations! I have been following the EarthSave project. This is fabulous!

  6. Ilana

    Amazing issues here. I’m very happy to look your article.
    Thaqnk you a lot and I am looking ahead to touch you.
    Wiill youu please drop mee a mail?

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