By Brianna Elliott [OAM Registered Dietitian] and Emily Casselman [Nutrition Student Volunteer]
October 24 is recognized as Food Day in the United States. We’re proud to celebrate this day at Open Arms, as our focus is on providing medically-tailored, home-cooked meals to individuals with life-threatening illnesses.
We would like to invite you to learn more about what Food Day is all about, and celebrate with us!
What is Food Day?
Food Day was created to bring awareness to food-related problems in our country, and as a call to action to improve the food system. It seeks to put America on a healthier, more sustainable path by addressing barriers that prevent individuals from accessing healthy foods and encouraging better care for our environment.
What are the goals of Food Day?
Below are the goals that Food Day seeks to accomplish, and how Open Arms works to fulfill those goals:
Promote safer, healthier diets
- By cooking medically-tailored meals from scratch with minimally processed ingredients, Open Arms promotes the nourishment and health of our clients and the community.
- Our meals include a variety of nutrient-dense, plant-based foods including fruit, vegetables, whole grains and legumes.
- The meals we provide limit certain nutrients of concern, such as sodium and saturated fat, which are known to be associated with chronic illness.
- Open Arms clients are provided with nutrition education to supplement the food we provide and to empower them to make healthier food choices.
Support sustainable and organic farms
- Open Arms has four urban farms throughout the Twin Cities where we grow organic vegetables and herbs for use in our kitchen as we create meals for our clients.
- We have a CSA program in which participants receive a box of our freshly grown produce every month through the growing season.
- This year we implemented a “Garden-In-A-Box” program, which provides our clients with a miniature garden to grow some of their own produce.
Reduce hunger and improve food access
- Our clients receive meals free of cost. This helps relieve some of the financial burden that comes with high medical expenses.
- We help connect our clients to other food assistance programs, such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly referred to as food stamps), to ensure they’re getting all the food support that they need.
- Once a month, Open Arms hosts Fare For All, a traveling food program that sells produce and other healthy food items at prices 40% lower than grocery stores.
Reform factory farms to protect the environment and farm animals
- Open Arms offers several menus that are low in red meat, including a vegan menu that doesn’t contain any animal products.
- We aim to source our food from local vendors as often as possible.
How can I get involved?
- Visit www.foodday.org to learn more about Food Day.
- Challenge yourself to limit packaged foods to reduce the amount of added sugar, sodium and trans fat in your diet. You’ll help the environment by avoiding landfill waste from packaging, too.
- Consider planting a small home garden, even if it’s just a few indoor herbs. Growing your own food is great for the environment, and it’s practical and satisfying, too!
- Volunteer with a local food bank and call your senator to urge more support and funding for programs like SNAP and WIC that reduce food insecurity in our country.