Congratulations to the first round of Healthy Lifestyles grant recipients. Funding for the selected evidence-based programs that encourage healthy eating and physical activity totaled $105,000 and was provided by the JCS Arts, Health and Education Fund of the DuPage Foundation:
- Bridge Communities – Reality Kitchen Program
Reality Kitchen will provide a two-part nutrition program that provides hands-on tips for planning, shopping, and preparing quick, healthy, and affordable meals for homeless families who are transitioning from homelessness to permanent housing. Participants start with a workshop for teens and parents on the basics of nutrition taught by a registered dietitian. After attending the workshop, family members participate in four one-on-one sessions with the Manager of Nutrition Services. Sessions include establishing a baseline of the family’s eating habits; discussing recipes for healthy meals; developing a grocery list; shopping for items on their list using a provided gift card; and learning how to read food labels. At the final session, the client family prepares 10 freezer/slow-cooker meals.
- The GardenWorks Project – Home Gardening Program
Through the Home Gardening Program, 300 low-income clients will be provided with a 4x8 raised garden bed, gardening tools, and a volunteer coach to ensure a successful first harvest of produce. The gardens become the training ground for health-promoting activities and the Garden to Table Nutrition Education curriculum. The overall goal is for clients to develop the life-long skills to grow fresh produce and become more knowledgeable about healthy eating and cooking with nutrient-dense foods on a budget.
- Northern Illinois Food Bank – Whole Body Approach to Disease Prevention Program
This healthy-eating educational program directed toward low-income individuals with diabetes and other chronic health problems will be provided for Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans and Wayne Township Food Pantry clients. Participants will meet weekly over a 10-week period to learn lifestyle interventions that reduce diabetes risk, including increased fruit and vegetable intake, healthy movement, and eating competency. The goal is to encourage behavior changes that decrease development of diabetes for high-risk participants. Lessons learned will also be applied to the prevention of other chronic diseases.
- UCP Seguin of Greater Chicago – Project FUN (Fitness and Ultimate Nutrition) Pilot Program
Project FUN will provide individualized exercise training and in-home healthy eating education to adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities who live in five of the organization’s CILA (Community Integrated Living Arrangement) group homes. Project FUN aims to help participants make better choices through diet and exercise; reduce reliance on medications and treatments; and lower the number of emergency room and health-care visits that might be attributable to inadequate diet and lack of exercise. It is anticipated that this pilot will provide the knowledge, tools, and experience enabling the replication of the program at the remaining six CILA homes in DuPage County and 65 homes in Cook County.
“Each of these programs are unique in the way they will provide opportunities to promote healthy eating and physical activity," said Barb Szczepaniak, Foundation vice president for programs. "We’re excited to follow each program during the next year to see how the different strategies employed will impact individuals who have a disability, are low-income, or are homeless.”