The HEAL Program is now offering mini grants to local organizations intensifying an ongoing movement to tear down barriers to healthy eating.
The program, (HEAL or Healthy Eating Active Living), is sponsored by the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation and Parkview Health and is now in its fifth year of expansion and partnership with over 75 community organizations participating.
Interested community groups (churches, non-profits, social services, etc.) may apply to host the program’s Our HEALing Kitchen nutritious cooking course. HEAL grants range from $500 to $1,000 and pay for fresh produce and other ingredients, utensils, facility rentals, a classroom celebration meal and other costs. HEAL also provides curriculum guides with nutrition education and recipes compiled by a Parkview Health dietitian. Grant applications are available online at sjchf.org under the HEAL tab and are due by March 30.
HEAL strives to prevent and manage long-term chronic conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, etc.—many of which can be reversed by eating healthy foods. In 2016 and 2017, HEAL awarded 64 grants to local organizations that collectively served more than 700 adults and youth through the cooking course, which generally lasts eight sessions.
Participants have reported increases in the amount of fruits and vegetables they eat daily. Some have planted their own gardens, while others have learned to freeze or preserve produce for cold Indiana winters.
Said one 2017 participant: “I used to always read how to cook healthy meals and it seemed so complicated, but the HEAL program has taught me that it is not complicated at all and most of all it is HEALTHY! This class has motivated me to start a weight loss journey!”
HEAL also sponsors multiple summer Farm Markets so shoppers can buy fresh produce at affordable prices, much of which is locally grown. The program is geared toward people who are low-income, live in neighborhoods that lack grocery stores, and who endure economic and social barriers that often make healthy foods unavailable. HEAL doubles the value of WIC, SNAP, and Senior produce vouchers at its Farm Markets. Also, Our HEALing Kitchen participants receive coupons that can be redeemed at those markets.
This year, HEAL expects to award at least 40 grants to Our HEALing Kitchen partners. The courses will take place throughout the summer and fall.