Nutrition & Recipes
Providing Health Options to the Community
Fresh produce is one of the best ways to protect our bodies against disease and obesity, but for many of our clients, fresh produce can be out of reach. This is why the Greater Cleveland Food Bank distributed over 21 million pounds of produce in 2017. We also provide simple recipes to accompany many of the produce items, especially items that may be unfamiliar to clients such as beets, eggplants, and turnips.
At the GCFB, we produce around 6,000 meals for low-income children and seniors daily. We’ve worked hard to make these meals packed with valuable nutrients and eliminated many sources of unhealthy ingredients. We have lowered the sodium of our gravies and sauces, switched to whole wheat pastas, and ditched the deep fryers. We feel these changes will have a great impact on the health of those who are receiving these meals.
We are constantly striving to make the food we serve as healthy as possible. We have an aggressive goal of making 80 percent of all the food we serve be nutritious. This means we are constantly seeking products lower in sodium, saturated fats, cholesterol and trans fats. By replacing these unhealthier products with more nutrient-dense ones, we are working to eliminate many of the health disparities found in low-income communities. To evaluate our efforts, we use a software system that analyzes the nutritional values of our food.
Educating our Partnering Agencies
Our Nutrition Manager, a Registered Dietitian, hosts a variety of nutrition-focused agency & client workshops, presentations, and cooking demonstrations using simple, affordable recipes. Each week we send a unique nutrition handout to all member agencies, which provides them with nutrition education information they can pass on to their clients. These handouts range from “Keeping your Heart Healthy” to “15 of the Healthiest Foods for under $1 Per Serving."
Currently we contract with five nutrition educators, who work diligently to provide weekly 1-hour nutrition education lessons to over 60 Kids Cafe afterschool programs in our service territory. These education lessons focus on teaching kids the importance of eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy proteins. Our educators also teach kids how to make simple, healthy meals they can make at home.
We have partnered with The City of Cleveland to create the Healthy Cleveland 2.0 Nutrition Guidelines, which layout the framework for healthy meal creation. These guidelines directly benefit our over 750 partnering agencies who are looking for ways to make their meal programs healthier. The guidelines can be found here.
The Cleveland Clinic has also been a key partner by providing their “Food is Knowledge” nutrition education curriculum for our nutrition educators to utilize.
The American Heart Association has given their approval of our nutrition efforts, and considers us one of their primary community nutrition leaders.
We have also partnered with the Meatless Monday™ campaign, which was created by Johns Hopkins University to reduce the amount of meat our country currently consumes. Every Monday, each of the about 6,000 meals the Greater Cleveland Food Bank Kitchen produces will be meatless. This gives us the opportunity to cook meals with more plant-based sources of protein, such as beans and whole grains. There are many benefits of eating less meat and we want to use this as an opportunity to educate our clients on these healthful benefits. Check out some of the benefits here!