June is Family Health and Fitness Month, and Open Door Family Medical Center is kicking off different healthy living programs for both patients’ families and their own families.
Open Door will offer 30 patients, prenatal women, and caregivers and parents of children up to the age of five years old the chance to participate in the Cooking Matters program. Provided by a six-month grant from No Kid Hungry, this program, in partnership with Share Our Strength, provides virtual cooking classes and educational materials on eating healthy and affordably in both English and Spanish. In addition to the virtual classes, over 1,200 patients started receiving weekly text messages with health and nutrition information drawn directly from the Cooking Matters curriculum, and in many cases will include links to online Cooking Matters resources, such as videos and handouts.
Cooking Matters works in communities across the country to help parents and caregivers develop their skills when shopping for and cooking healthy and affordable foods. Offering cooking classes taught by experts, the program teaches participants about cooking, meal preparation, grocery shopping, food budgeting and nutrition.
“In addition to cooking classes and the sharing of recipes, all participants will be able to pick up a bag with ingredients to prepare meals and cooking utensils each week,” said Claudio Villarroel, Associate Director of Wellness Programs at Open Door. “The whole premise of Cooking Matters is to help educate people and give them access to healthy foods to avoid food insecurity.”
Food insecurity, where people have a lack of consistent access to healthy foods, is a problem for many of Open Door’s patients. “Good nutrition is a defining element for good health. Unfortunately, however, high quality, nutritious foods are not available for everyone,” said Villarroel. The Cooking Matters recipes will include such favorites as fruit tarts, mini pizzas, fruit smoothies, tuna boats, veggie wraps, stir fry, pasta dinners and vegetable quesadillas, all to be prepared in a healthy manner.
Open Door also offers its patients exercise classes, which went virtual during the pandemic. This includes Pilates, Zumba, kickboxing and circuit training (which includes such exercises as pushups, planks, lunges, squats, and isometric movements), all without the need for any gym equipment, with participants having the opportunity to exercise in the privacy of their own homes or during office breaks. All Open Door patients 18 and over are eligible for the free classes.
Open Door is also taking care of the health and wellness of its own staff by introducing this month the Spring into Summer Wellness Challenge. Thirty teams comprised of four staffers each have registered for the competition. Points will be awarded for certain physical activities, healthy eating practices, and decompressing and de-stressing, with scores posted on a weekly basis and the winners of the competition to receive prizes. Teams, with names like Run for Snacks, Bright Smiles, Floss Boss, and New Me, include staffers working in Open Door locations in Ossining, Port Chester, Mt. Kisco, Sleepy Hollow, Mamaroneck, and Brewster, as well as at its school-based health centers.
“Points will be awarded for healthy habits that range from participating in remote and in-person exercise videos to eating a portion of vegetables, from reading articles on healthy practices to meditating or sitting in nature,” said Leanna D’Agostino, Wellness Coordinator and Certified Personal Trainer. “We will also be encouraging them to take lunchtime or after work walks with us through the local neighborhoods at some of our locations. It’s all intended to encourage our own staff and their families, like our patients and their families, to live healthier lives.”