Foundation helps schools launch scratch-cooking programs

Written and published by Food Management, December 4, 2017

This fall, LJ Klinkenberg introduced a new menu item at Cheney School District in Washington: chicken and lentil Korean street tacos. 

Klinkenberg, director of nutrition services, says students like that it’s a trendy-sounding food. “But they’re also getting lentils that are coming in from literally less than an hour from here.” 

Cheney students eat a variety of meals like this one, all made by district cooks: chicken and waffles, barbecue pulled pork sandwiches, deep-dish turkey potpies and pizza made with a naturally fermented crust from a local purveyor. About 80 percent of the food purchased by the district comes in the form of whole commodity or locally sourced ingredients.

A total of nine school districts in eastern Washington run scratch-cooking programs like this one, launched through partnerships with Empire Health Foundation. Cheney started its program in 2011 as one of the foundation’s pilot partners, at the dawn of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. 

“Our very first strategic initiative was to see to see what we could do to reduce childhood obesity rates in eastern Washington,” says Laura Martin, program associate for the foundation. 

The foundation has invested nearly $3 million dollars in its Healthy Kids, Healthy Schools initiative, which serves a mix of people living in urban, suburban and rural areas in a seven-county area and on tribal lands. The population mirrors those in other parts of the country: About one in three children are considered overweight or obese.

Partner districts deliver 4.7 million scratch-cooked meals yearly, serving 44% of the total K-12 student population in the region. In the Cheney School District, they’ve seen a 4.5 percent (statistically significant) reduction in the number of students classified as overweight or obese over a period of five years. It appears that they’re on the right track.

The foundation provides training for kitchen employees, connects schools with funding streams for needs such as kitchen equipment and helps districts reimagine their meal programs—from menu modifications to marketing plans. 

Klinkenberg, who served as the foundation’s liaison to school districts before he took the position in Cheney, says training kitchen workers to be school cooks is the foundation’s top priority. “There was a generation of people who had only been opening bags” to prepare school meals, he says. 

To help employees acquire an entirely new set of skills, the foundation brings teaching chefs into the schools through its culinary academy. Kitchen workers attend a four-day program where they learn bedrock culinary tasks such as knife skills, vegetable preparation and proper raw protein handling. They also learn management skills such as food buying practices and efficiency in the kitchen. 

If training is the most important aspect of launching a scratch-cooking program, marketing is the most important aspect of maintaining one, Martin says. To make it worthwhile, a district needs to change its food culture. 

“School food is pretty synonymous with hot dogs and tater tots and chips, so when you’re replacing those with roasted potatoes and baked chicken that has actual bones in it, marketing these programs to the kids and making it fun is imperative,” she says. “You can pat yourself on the back if you’re pumping out food that’s nutritious, but unless you’re actually getting those kids to eat the food then, to me, it’s not a success.” 

Employees are encouraged to reimagine their role in the lunchroom. Kitchen workers are educators who create opportunities for kids to try new things and promote healthy food choices. They begin with tasting events, where staff and students preview new menu items and share their opinions. Districts launch new menus at the start of the school year, so they hold promotional events in the spring, complete with voting boxes at elementary schools so students can rank dishes.

Throughout the year, workers describe new dishes in familiar ways to skeptical or inquisitive students. (A pasta casserole may be described as “curly noodles, tomato sauce and cheese.”) They also stock small cups on the line so they can offer samples. At the secondary level, table tents inform students about nutrition and new menu items. 

Districts also aim to elevate the appearance of school food, to make it look less industrial. Martin says it’s important in an age when more and more students pay attention to aesthetics: “From fifth grade up, that’s a pretty savvy customer group,” she says. 

The foundation has seen firsthand that, with resources and creativity, schools can make nutritious scratch meals that appeal to almost any student. 

“It can happen,” Martin says. “Kids actually will eat vegetables.”

Read the original article here

EHF Aging Services Partners Convene to Celebrate Health Coaches

Bill didn’t really care about managing his diabetes; what he did care about was panning for gold in the Colville Valley.

So began a convening of EHF health coaching partners this past fall.

The day brought together a cohort of peers serving the aging community across Eastern Washington. What surfaced from the event was a great sense of peer support and learning, and an excitement to continue sharing ideas and strategies.

EHF’s Aging Services Partners came from all over the region in celebration of health coaching successes.

EHF’s Aging Services Partners came from all over the region in celebration of health coaching successes.

Finding Success

Health coaches from throughout the region shared stories of the positive impact they create for seniors, and the coaching styles that bring success to their work.

The common themes of compassion, understanding, and trust emerged across all the stories in the room.

Our health coach partners overwhelmingly agreed that it is essential to listen to what their clients find most important. By addressing goals that are meaningful to the clients, the coaches can introduce how health plays a part in achieving those goals.

David Donally, Aging and Long Term Care of Eastern Washington, and Nina Adams, Rural Resources Community Action, exchange coaching strategies. David recommends being authentic and trusting the client. He tells the senior he works with  “you are the expert here; you know what you want”.

David Donally, Aging and Long Term Care of Eastern Washington, and Nina Adams, Rural Resources Community Action, exchange coaching strategies. David recommends being authentic and trusting the client. He tells the senior he works with  “you are the expert here; you know what you want”.

Nora Flett with the Spokane Tribe of Indians Health and Human Services added that building a trusting relationship with the client encourages goal setting. She emphasized the importance of being truthful when working with seniors, stating, “I don’t claim to know everything, I learn with them.”

Nora Flett, Spokane Tribe of Indians Health and Human Services

Nora Flett, Spokane Tribe of Indians Health and Human Services

Helping Seniors Thrive

Bill hadn’t been out panning for gold in years. Complications from his diabetes made it too difficult to go. Bill didn’t know how to lower his A1c and didn’t think there was anything he could do to get healthier.

The story of “Bill” represents many of the clients served through EHF’s Aging Services portfolio. Pam Snider from Rural Resources Community Action explained that she tries to “meet clients where they’re at” in order to have the most impact.

Pam worked with Bill on his diabetes. During their weekly coaching sessions, Pam learned about Bill’s desire to get back to panning for gold. Knowing this goal, she helped Bill see how lowering his A1c could get him out in the mountains again. 

Colville National Forest. Source: USDA National Forest Service https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/colville/about-forest/about-area

Colville National Forest. Source: USDA National Forest Service https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/colville/about-forest/about-area

Pam was able to frame the conversation of improved health and higher activation in the context of something that was meaningful to Bill.   

Pam’s story of Bill reminds us that the work we are doing creates better health outcomes and quality of life for older adults in our region. 

Pam Snider, Rural Resources Community Action

Pam Snider, Rural Resources Community Action

Supporting Our Partners

The day gave our health coach partners the space to share what supports they need to better serve their seniors.

We learned that a main concern for our coaches is getting seniors connected with the resources and services that will help them remain independent and thrive. Nina Adams from Rural Resources Community Action spoke to the systemic issues facing seniors in the community, including affordable housing, access to healthy food, and transportation.

“How can a senior afford a healthy diet? How can they eat a healthy diet on food bank supplies? There are issues we see but cannot always fix,” Nina commented.  

We learned another significant need for our coaches is self-care training related to grief and loss. Serving the elderly can be difficult work that requires dedicated individuals, and burnout is a hazard.

Our partners requested technical assistance for the development of coping skills to manage the stress and grief that comes with serving a vulnerable population.

From left: Shivon Brite, Empire Health Foundation, and Alison Ball, Confederated Colville Tribes, discuss support needs for health coaches. Alison Ball urges that health coaches need assistance with the grief process.

From left: Shivon Brite, Empire Health Foundation, and Alison Ball, Confederated Colville Tribes, discuss support needs for health coaches. Alison Ball urges that health coaches need assistance with the grief process.

Continuing the Spirit of Peer Collaboration

Our partners found that networking with peers, both at the service provider and administration levels, was a great benefit to their work.

Terry Titmus with Rural Resoures Community Action noted that he looks forward to learning of opportunities to capitalize on the efficiencies that others have discovered. 

From left: Terry Titmus, Rural Resources Community Action, and Wendy Thomas, Kalispel Tribe of Indians, found value in networking. 

From left: Terry Titmus, Rural Resources Community Action, and Wendy Thomas, Kalispel Tribe of Indians, found value in networking. 

Overall, the group communicated an appreciation for the time together, and requested that future convening provide ample space and time for networking. We plan to convene this group every six months and are excited to see this platform grow. 

PROGRAM UPDATE: Tribal Rural Aging Projects partners with Empire Health Foundation

By Tribal Tribune

The Colville Tribes’ Rural Aging Project is partnering with the Empire Health Foundation (EHF) to improve the health and wellness of tribal members on the Reservation. The project has one overarching goal ‘to improve the health and safety of tribal members on the Colville Indian Reservation.’ To achieve this goal, this project will develop a health needs assessment that will be mailed out to all tribal head of household on the reservation.

The health needs will support the Tribes’ effor to meet tribal members’ long-term health and social service needs. Results of the assessment will be published in a future Tribune edition. The assessment will be used ot make program improvements and prioritize the delivery of health services to tribal members living on the reservation.

Our other project, The Heritage Manual, when completed, will be available to the community for those tribla members who wish to know more about our cultural beliefs and knowledge. Data for the manual will be atathered through focus groups and interviews with elders 55 years and older. This summer, five Colville college students (Tyron Cawston, Randall Gottfriedson, Sim Hay Kin Jack, Kookguma Scumhist Jack and Justina Campbell) collected and transcribed 44 interviews. This information will be put into a manaul and made available to tribal members who wish to learn more about their culture and traditions, and to programs that may want to incorporate more culture into their programs and the delivery of more cultural responsive services. This is just one small step. Progress will be reported in a later edition of the Tribune. Look for the Health Needs assessment in your mail soon.

Read the original article here.

HSSA Announces Rising Strong as 2018 Recipient of "Access to Care" Grant

By Health Sciences & Services Authority of Spokane County (HSSA)

The Health Sciences & Services Authority (HSSA) of Spokane County announced it will fund $380,000 for five (5) community recipients of its annual “Access to Care” grant competition in 2018. The organizations that were selected provide innovative health service delivery and increased access to health care to certain populations. 

“HSSA’s mission includes increasing access to health care through innovative and collaborative health care delivery in Spokane County, as well as its on-going efforts to improve the capacity of the Spokane region in health sciences research,” said Nancy L. Isserlis, HSSA Board Chair.

“HSSA received 13 grant proposals totaling over $1.2 million, which certainly speaks to community need and innovation presented in these proposals,” she said.

The 2018 recipients of HSSA’s “Access to Care” grant competition are as follows:

Empire Health Foundation/Catholic Charities Spokane “Rising Strong” will receive $100,000 from HSSA for its family-centered treatment with housing for families at risk of child removal due to parental alcohol and substance use disorder. Rising Strong will provide housing, recovery coaching, behavioral treatment and evidence-based programs for the entire family.

Read the full announcement here

New Report from Grantmakers in Aging Explores Impact of the Opioid Epidemic on Rural Aging

Written by GlobeNewswire, August 24, 2017

“Heartache, Pain, and Hope: Rural Communities, Older People, and the Opioid Crisis: An Introduction for Funders” examines who is affected, how we got here, and what’s working.

The opioid crisis is a story of many types of pain, and how individuals, families, and entire communities – particularly small and rural ones – are becoming collateral damage. A new paper released today by Grantmakers In Aging -- Heartache, Pain, and Hope: Rural Communities, Older People, and the Opioid Crisis: An Introduction for Funders -- looks at the problem with a fresh perspective, focusing overdue attention on the damage to rural communities, particularly the lives of older people, and describing proven programs, innovative partnerships, policy recommendations, and scientific and medical responses that governments, communities, nonprofits, and philanthropies can support and expand.

Read the full paper here.

Rural communities tend to be tight-knit and self-reliant, but their infrastructure and resources are often limited, their populations are older than the rest of the country, and they are frequently overlooked in national policymaking. This has been a dangerous mix when it comes to opioids. According to the CDC, for example, people in rural counties are nearly twice as likely to overdose on prescription painkillers as people in cities, and the wider impact is enormous as well.

"Community-Wide Aftershocks" of the Opioid Epidemic

“This crisis has caused community-wide aftershocks -- in child welfare, elder abuse, public safety, criminal justice, the workforce, the economy, caregiving, housing, and, of course, health care, and many older people are suffering as a result, often without care, attention, or support,” says John Feather, PhD, CEO of Grantmakers In Aging (GIA). “Some older people do suffer from opioid misuse and addiction problems, but the fallout reaches well beyond the addicted individuals, and the response from foundations and service providers must be broader as well, to address that wider set of needs.”

Putting the Needs of Older People on the Opioid Agenda

Some issues of particular concern to older people include:

  •   High rates of chronic pain, which is sometimes treated with opioids. This must be considered when making changes to the regulation and prescribing of opioids, and more alternative treatment options are needed.

  •   Cultural and generational sensitivities that may stop older people from seeking help when they do have a dependency. Reducing stigma and improving access to specialized help in rural communities are key objectives.

  •   Increased risk of elder abuse, and the need for stronger prevention and intervention options.

  •   Recognition and support for older people who take on additional responsibilities, such as raising grandchildren whose parents cannot care for them.

Rural communities bring certain unique strengths to this challenge, such as cohesive, supportive kinship and community networks and flexible, innovative local institutions. By understanding both the needs and the potential of rural communities, funders of all kinds can form better funding relationships and achieve greater impact on this sweeping national problem.

“Tivity Health has made a commitment to help address complex issues related to rural aging, and the impact of the opioid epidemic on rural seniors is truly catastrophic,” said Donato Tramuto, CEO of Tivity Health. “I know that rural communities have strengths that those outside the community may not recognize, and many are dealing with these issues with compassion, hard work and through innovative programs. I commend Grantmakers In Aging for bringing increased focus to this important issue with such a timely and provocative publication.” 

Creating a Network for Rural Aging

Heartache, Pain, and Hope: Rural Communities, Older People, and the Opioid Crisis: An Introduction for Funders is made possible by funding from Tivity Health and Empire Health Foundation and is the second paper GIA has published as part of its rural aging initiative.