Health/ Wellness

Eating healthy on a healthy budget

In 2015, Delaware County kept its spot as the healthiest county in the state of Ohio, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  The region has been number one for the past five years.

Although Delaware may be the healthiest county in Ohio, there are residents who regularly experience food insecurity.  Many homeless people or low income families have no idea where their next meal will come from. To help alleviate this problem, several organizations have created aid programs that provide healthy and inexpensive meals for families.

For instance, Chris Fink, a health and human kinetics professor, and a group of Ohio Wesleyan students created a cooking class called Cooking Matters in the fall of 2014.   The program aims to provide food security for homeless and low-income families.

Local Matters, a community collaboration organization aimed at improving people’s access to quality food, sponsors the program. The OWU class teaches people how to shop, prepare, and enjoy a healthy meal for the whole family.

The six-week course includes meal demonstrations, which allows people to make different meals in their small groups. The class relies on donations to get the food for the class. Currently the food is funded by a university grant.

Since it’s inception, the program has held two different class sessions helping more than 25 people find food security.

“(Cooking Matters) broadens horizons of taste to expose you to various versions of ways to eat vegetables,” Fink said

A cooking matters class prepares a meal together, learning how to prepare breakfast burritos.

The program teaches these individuals to shop for cheaper groceries, which enables them to put together meals for a family of four for less than $10.

Class sizes are limited to 15 people, yet students often share their new-found skills in the kitchen.  They share with friends, which creates a network of people who help others learn how to save money on groceries while still eating healthy.

The Empty Plate Campaign

In 2012, members of the Delaware community came together to find a solution to end food insecurity in Delaware County.  The discussion was lead by the Mid- Ohio Food Bank, and at the end of the discussions the Delaware County Hunger Alliance was formed.

The Hunger Alliance of Delaware is another strong advocate for quality food and healthy choices.

The Delaware County Hunger Alliance logo

“There are 17,890 empty plates in Delaware County,” according to United Way.

The Hunger Alliance is a coalition of local organizations that provide food to the homeless and low-income residents of Delaware County.  In joining forces, the coalition has doubled the amount of fresh free produce that homeless and              low-income residents receive.

When the discussion began three years ago they talked about how they could increase their capacity to serve more people.  “In the first year we doubled the amount of fresh produce from 2013-2014,” said J.R. Ailes, the director or FEED, the food panty at Delaware City Vineyard.

The mission statement of the Empty Plate campaign: “Hunger Alliance recently launched an awareness campaign to share more information about the scope of this problem in our community.  Ultimately, our goal to increase awareness, donations and volunteers and reduce the number of empty plates.”

This is a video put together by the Delaware County Hunger Alliance.  Residents give their personal testimony of what it is like to need food assistance.

Organizations in Delaware that are members of the Delaware County Hunger Alliance include:

  • United Way of Delaware County
  • Delaware County General Health District
  • People In Need
  • The Salvation Army
  • FEED Delaware, Woodward Family Resource Center
  • Andrews House
  • Common Ground Free Store
  • Helpline
  • Mid-Ohio Food Bank
  • Lutheran Social Services
  • Council for Older Adults
  • Highpoint Community Outreach
  • The Open Table
  • William Street Methodist Church
  • The Delaware County Foundation

These organizations are committed to fighting hunger until there are no more empty plates in Delaware County.