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

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.

Free tax services for the low-income and disadvantaged start Feb.1

Free tax preparation services for low-income and disadvantaged residents will start in Sacramento and Carmichael on February 1 and continue through the April 18, 2011 extended deadline.

Taxes
Taxes
Through their TaxAide program, American Association of Retired Persons volunteers prepare most returns, including much-needed Earned Income Credit (EIC). For this program, AARP has assistance from the Internal Revenue Service, the Franchise Tax Board, Sacramento~Yolo Mutual Housing Association and Mission Oaks Recreation and Parks District.

 Tax preparation services will be held on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at:

Mutual Housing’s Victory Townhomes, 1075 Dixieanne Ave. in Sacramento.

Tax preparations will take place on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Mission Oaks Community Center, 3344 Mission Ave. in Carmichael.

Appointments are necessary. Call 2-1-1 for an appointment.

People can also call (916) 498-1000 for the Sacramento site or (916) 972-0336 for the Carmichael center. (The only walk-ins who will be accepted are people of 60-plus years of age or Victory Townhomes residents.)

A non-profit with 15 communities in the region, Mutual Housing develops and operates well-designed, affordable rental housing with 2,600 residents, half of whom are children.  Through MH’s focus on leadership, the nonprofit also provides training and mentoring as well as educational programs, community-building activities and services for residents and neighbors.  For more information, visit www.mutualhousing.com   

Founded in 1958, AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50 and over improve the quality of their lives. AARP has offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. AARP’s mission is to enhance the quality of life for all as we age, leading positive social change, and delivering value to members through information, advocacy, and service.  Visit www.aarp.org for more information.