March 12, 2015. Our program featured Meagan Grega and Eric Ruth from the Kellyn Foundation that was founded in 2008 to serve the needs of obese and overweight patients. They aim to help their patients adopt sustainable healthy lifestyles. The Two Rivers Health and Wellness Foundation was founded in 2001 to help serve health needs in the community. Nutrition was not even considered a problem at that time. By 2008, nutrition had sprung to the top of the list. These two organizations are now partnering on a major Valley-wide project designed to bring food and healthy lifestyle changes to needy areas and also to help bolster the local economy.
The “Eat Real Food” project will center around a mobile food market that will travel the Valley bringing affordable fresh food from local farms. $1.5 billion per year is spent in the Lehigh Valley on food but less than $3 million stays here. The mobile food trailer gives local farms a new market for their products. A recent study found that 1/3 of children in the Valley are already overweight or obese and at early risk for health problems including stroke and heart disease. 73% of children are already insulin resistant. Obese adults average $1,360 more per year in medical costs than non-obese adults (smokers are only $1,046 per year). Diabetic adults average $5,379 more per year. These health problems often stem from poor nutritional choices.
One problem is that healthy fresh food is not as easy to get as unhealthy choices. Studies have identified at least 8 Valley areas with limited access to fresh food. The Kellyn Foundation has already established a presence in some of these areas. They have programs in 30 local schools and have done cooking demonstrations in many other places including the Summer Nights program in the West Ward. The Two Rivers Health and Wellness Foundation has pledged $500,000 over the next 5 years to support the program. There may also be a place for Easton Rotary. The Foundation is considering a donation to cover the cost of the truck and trailer for the mobile market.