RIDGEWOOD, N.J., Sept. 19, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Healing Meals, a nutritious food-gifting program for pediatric patients undergoing treatment for cancer, serious blood disorders and sickle cell anemia and their families, is now providing local senior residents nutritious meals to support their health and well-being. Since its inception in March 2014, this first of its kind food-gifting program has provided more than 10,000 servings to pediatric patients and their families. Now the HealthBarn Foundation's Healing Meals program is expanding its offerings to local seniors at Ridgecrest Senior Housing and S.H.A.R.E. (Senior Housing Association of Ridgewood and Environs) Independent Living for Active Seniors located in Ridgewood, NJ.
Healthy dietary patterns consistent with current guidelines, such as the consumption of low-fat dairy products, fruit and vegetables, whole grains, poultry and fish, have been associated with improved quality of life and survival in older adults. Unfortunately, food can be a financial burden for seniors, and food insecurity among this population may impact their ability to follow healthy dietary patterns resulting in inadequate intake of fresh fruits and vegetables. Even some seniors, who have sufficient financial support and are food secure, do not have the resources to access or prepare food due to lack of transportation, functional limitations or health problems.
"The HealthBarn Foundation and its Healing Meals program have been a wonderful gift for our residents who are not always able to purchase and prepare healthy meals for themselves," said of Sue Ulrich, Activity and Resource Coordinator of Ridgecrest Senior Housing, an organization that provides affordable housing to low income seniors. "We are so grateful for the program because it ensures that our residents receive the proper nutrition for their specific needs, and the meals are delicious!"
The weekly recipes are personally selected by Stacey Antine, MS, RDN, Director of the HealthBarn Foundation with considerations for the unique nutritional needs of the senior population. The recipes are low in sodium and saturated fats, moderate in carbohydrates with no added or artificial sugars, and full of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals to support heart health, blood sugar control and immune function.
"Healing Meals has been such a relief for our community," said Marianne Bennett of S.H.A.R.E. Inc., a New Jersey non-profit organization providing an affordable, home like environment for independent seniors. "The partnership has helped us continue to provide a weekly hot and healthy meal to our residents when we don't have a volunteer available to cook."
Healing Meals are prepared by community and culinary student volunteers from the Bergen County Academies in Hackensack at No Fuss Lunch's commercial kitchen in Hawthorne NJ. The collaboration with volunteers creates an avenue for them to interactively learn about nutrition while doing a good deed for their elderly neighbors. Whole Foods Market Bergen County locations provide generous weekly donations to ensure the use of high quality, fresh, natural and organic ingredients and the HealthBarn Foundation provides additional ingredients and packaging as needed through private donations.
"It has been amazing to see the positive impact of Healing Meals in the pediatric populations at Tomorrows Children's Fund at Hackensack Medical Center and St. Joseph's Children's Hospital, and we are really excited to expand the program for local seniors," said Antine. "Access to healthy food is important at all ages, including our seniors who have unique nutritional needs and challenges from health conditions to limited functional abilities that need to be considered. We hope this food-gifting model continues to expand and can provide a framework for other communities to serve those in need."
For more information about the HealthBarn Foundation, the charitable arm of HealthBarn USA, an organization dedicated to teaching families about healthy eating, and Healing Meals visit http://healthbarnfoundation.org/.
CONTACT: Julia Sharkey Buckley, MS, RDN
SOURCE The HealthBarn Foundation