It isn 't easy to find or eat healthy food for everyone. Though many people take easy access to fresh produce for granted, there are many people right here in the greater Cleveland area who don 't have the resources to eat healthily. Countless people live in areas where access to healthy food is limited or nonexistent, and many more lack the resources to purchase this food even if readily available. Therefore, there are a disproportionate number of under-served Cleveland residents with chronic, diet-related health issues.
The Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland has engaged in a battle against this inequality. Everyone deserves to have access to fresh, healthy food. In order to supplement our pantries with healthy, fresh produce, we have formed valuable partnerships with community gardens who donate extra produce to our hunger centers for distribution. In just two years after having begun this program, the amount of fresh produce that has been donated to our clients has risen significantly.
One amazing partnership the Hunger Network has developed is with South Euclid Community Gardens, who last year alone donated 763 pounds of freshly grown produce to the Heights Emergency Food Center. South Euclid Municipal Assistant Daniel Subwick, and gardening specialists Pam and Jim O'Toole and Emily Lynch, along with a great group of community gardeners from all around South Euclid, were instrumental in this movement. Their hard work and dedication not only helped to feed hungry area-residents, but has helped beautify South Euclid, has brought community members together for a cause, and has even raised property values for homes neighboring the gardens. The urban gardening movement is growing at a rapid pace here in Cleveland, and the charitable nature of Cleveland-area residents is shining through more than ever.
The Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland would also like to thank the following remarkable organizations whose support has helped our clients access healthy food across the greater Cleveland area: Community Circle II, Dunham Community Garden, First Unitarian Church of Shaker Heights, Fresh Fork Market, Grace Church, John Seese, Kentucky Garden, Messiah Lutheran Church, Parma Lutheran Church Community Garden, South Haven Community, Rev. Jerry Bartlett, Woodview Hope Garden, John Carroll University Garden, Esperanza Community Garden, and Green City Growers, our newest developing partnership, who recently donated 60 heads of fresh, hydroponic lettuce to Garden Valley Neighborhood House. This treasured support not only helps us stop hunger in its tracks, but it helps give our clients the resources to assist them in getting healthy.
The movement is growing, and the Hunger Network is continually searching for fresh produce donations to supplement our emergency food distributions. If you have extra produce you would like to donate to a pantry in the greater Cleveland area, please contact Sara Continenza, Stay Well Project Coordinator for the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 216-619-8155, ext. 37. Thank you in advance for your support. We couldnít do it without you!
By: Sara Continenza
Executive Director's LetterPosted March 11th, 2013
It is hard to believe how quickly time is going. I want to thank each and every one of you who helped the Hunger Network through 2012, another challenging year. It is because of you, our wonderful volunteers and funders, that the Hunger Network continues to be the safety-net for 60,000 people every month. Thank you for helping the Hunger Network meet our holiday fundraising goal. I am pleased to report that we met our very lofty Holiday Drive goal of $600,000...with special help from two generous legacy gifts.
We are very grateful for everyone's help last year. Special thanks to the congregation of Bay Presbyterian Church and the Community West Foundation for providing all the poultry for the Holiday Meals Program. Everyone coming to our 34 main pantries for emergency food in November and again in December, went home with bags full of provisions for holiday meals.
In this new year, we are looking forward and working diligently to provide our most vulnerable citizens, families, seniors and of course the children with the nutritious food they need to survive. We are working to help them stay healthy through our "Stay Well Project", in collaboration with University Hospitals and are looking toward the third season of the "Garden of Giving" project, that provides our main centers with nutritious fresh produce straight from the garden.
The need continues, as one in every six people in our community have food insecurity. We need your help to Feed a Growing Need.
Dana Irribarren, Executive Director
Stay Well Project-Saving LivesPosted March 11th, 2013
The Hunger Network's Stay Well Project is changing and possibly saving lives. Case in point, Priscilla, 57 and her adult son Victor who are long time, dedicated volunteers at the Network's Redeemer ICH Crisis Hunger Center, on the near West Side of Cleveland.
Last August, during the Stay Well Project's "Back-to-School Health Fair," at Redeemer, both mother and son got their blood pressures checked. They had no known health conditions and were shocked to find out that their blood pressures were dangerously high. The medical team at the event told them this is why high blood pressure is called the silent killer. Unless you are screened, you may not know you have it until it is too late! This mother and son duo decided right then and there to take steps to reduce their blood pressure levels by implementing lifestyle changes recommended to them by the University Hospital health experts in attendance at the fair.
Starting that very day, they began cutting back on their salt and meat intake. Priscilla added more vegetables, herbs, and spices into their culinary routines. They began to really think about what and how they were eating. It didn't take long for them to realize that the changes could positively affect their health, specifically their blood pressure levels.
Just five months later, Victor and Priscilla were participating in another Stay Well Program about Diabetes Awareness. As part of each program, participants have the opportunity to be weighed. Priscilla found out that she lost 10 pounds and Victor lost 5. When they had their systolic blood pressures read, they were delighted to find out that they had much lower readings and were in fact out of the danger zone. The conscious changes they made in their daily routines as a result of learning of their potentially lethal blood pressure levels have paid off! They are lighter, have more energy, and their blood pressure numbers continue to get better.
Hypertension, the silent killer, often shows no symptoms until itís too late. Around 600,000 people die every year from heart disease (www.cdc.gov), and a disproportionately large number of these individuals are either Hispanic or African American. This mainly diet-based illness can be easily prevented by making intelligent day-to-day lifestyle choices, and by testing blood pressure levels regularly. Every Stay Well event offers blood pressure checks to help Hunger Network clients stay up-to-date about their personal health.
For more information about the Stay Well Project or its upcoming events, contact the coordinator Sara Continenza at email@example.com, 216-619-8155 ext. 37.
Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland, Stopping Hunger in its Tracks!