Submitted by OSF HealthCare
In its continuing mission to serve with the greatest care and love, OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington has started a program to provide the ingredients for a free meal once a month to anyone who needs it.
SmartMeals: Sharing Christ’s Love Through Food provides healthy, budget-friendly meals to try at home.
The program was created after the 2017 Community Health Needs Assessment identified obesity as a major issue in McLean County. According to Erin Kennedy, manager of the Center for Healthy Lifestyles at OSF St. Joseph, a major part of preventing obesity is nutrition education. SmartMeals provides that knowledge, along with a recipe and the ingredients for a healthy meal.
“The SmartMeals program specifically brings together education awareness and the use of healthier foods,” Kennedy said.
Each month, a new healthy meal is offered, while supplies last. The meals are low in fat and sodium and high in fiber. Meals are appropriate for most individuals, including those with dietary restrictions due to conditions such as diabetes, heart failure, obesity, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
“Any time we can care for our community, whether they are patients, or just our community at large, is amazing. We think about what healthcare looks like, and it’s not just medical care,” Kennedy said. “It’s wellness. It’s prevention. It’s keeping people out of our hospitals because we are empowering them to make healthier choices.”
The spark behind SmartMeals came from Kris Burke of Bloomington, who made a donation for the program in honor of her late parents. She says SmartMeals is a perfect reflection of their legacies.
“I think they’d really be pleased. My mom liked to cook, she liked to entertain, and she liked to make other people welcome. I think this program is great,” Burke said.
Meals can be replicated for $7 or less, are simple to make, and use easily found ingredients. Each SmartMeals package includes a bag of ingredients, the recipe on how to prepare the meal, a shopping list for the next time the recipient wants to make the meal, and education materials.
A new SmartMeals package is offered each month at the Center for Healthy Lifestyles, 2200 E. Washington St., Bloomington, Entrance D. Recipients are limited to one visit per calendar month.
SmartMeals: Sharing Christ’s Love Through Food is free and available to all McLean County residents. To learn more, call Erin Kennedy at the Center for Healthy Lifestyles at OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center at 309-661-5151.