Caring for Generations for 150 Years
 
 
 
 
 
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Hunger and Nutrition

We believe access to healthy food is an essential right and the basis for a better life.

Nutrition ServicesWe understand the importance of jointly addressing hunger and promoting good nutrition. Research continually shows that Americans who experience food insecurity are also struggling to eat healthy food and are at higher risk for chronic diet-related diseases . To address these concerns, JF&CS Hunger and Nutrition works to improve health by teaching people how to shop for and prepare healthy and affordable meals. We reach individuals and families through nutrition education workshops, food demonstrations, healthy low-cost recipe dissemination, and distribution of our cookbook, Home Cooking without a Kitchen. We also train staff, consult with food pantries about making impactful nutritional improvements, and partner with others to facilitate effective nutrition programs. All of this helps ensure healthy food access for all.

“They helped us focus in on the most important changes to make based on their [nutrition] expertise.” - Partner Organization

What's Cooking

Home Cooking Without a Kitchen Cookbook

Jewish Family & Children’s Service, in partnership with Project Bread, published Home Cooking without a Kitchen, a cookbook that provides 21 tasty and nutritious recipes that are budget-friendly, simple to prepare, and can be made without a full kitchen. Home Cooking without a Kitchen is available in English and Spanish.

We recognized the need for a cookbook like this after more than five years of working with families living in a hotel as shelter in Waltham, Massachusetts. An average of 1,258 families with children reside in motel rooms as shelter across Massachusetts[1] with limited access to food and little more than a mini-fridge, microwave, and bathroom sink to prepare a meal. Without a full kitchen, preparing healthy meals is extremely difficult. We distribute free copies of the cookbook along with samples of recipes to the families in shelter so they can taste how delicious healthy meals prepared with limited cooking facilities can be.

We have also provided Home Cooking without a Kitchen workshops and recipe demonstrations for older adults at community and senior centers in various towns across Eastern Massachusetts. The cookbook provides information and recipes that encourage continued independence as long as possible.

[1] Seligman HK, Laraia BA, Kushel MB. Food Insecurity Is Associated with Chronic Disease among Low-Income NHANES Participants. The Journal of Nutrition. 2010;140(2):304-310. doi:10.3945/jn.109.112573.

Healthy Eating on a Budget Workshops

Our hands-on workshops increase a person’s knowledge of and confidence in making healthy food choices. We offer these workshops for people at risk for chronic diseases including older adults, people with disabilities, and people who are homeless. Many group participants are individuals or families who need to make healthy food changes on a budget. 

Topics covered include:

  • Healthy eating on a budget
  • Seasonal/local eating
  • Nutrition myth busters
  • Healthy holiday eating
  • Building a healthy plate
  • Whole grains
  • Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Eating Plan

Staff Training

We work with staff members of JF&CS programs as well as partner agencies to teach the skills they need to help clients improve their nutritional health. We provide interactive presentations, menu planning, educational materials, and professional support individualized to each staff member or partner agency’s needs.

Publications and Research

Publications

We created the Healthy and Affordable Family Meals Workshop Guide in partnership with Healthy Waltham and Waltham Fields Community Farm to promote healthy food access. This guide contains a curriculum and planning tips, which can help service providers reach families with meaningful programs to help them make healthy food choices.

Research
Nutrition Services and JF&CS Family Table have paired with Boston University to perform research about how foods and education provided at food pantries can impact behavior change. Results were published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, furthering the evidence of how important healthy food access is for people experiencing food insecurity.

Recipes

We curate and create recipes for clients, community partners, and the general public. Recipes offer meals that cost $2.50 or less per serving and meet nutrition guidelines consistent with the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Many recipes are also available in Russian. View some of our recipes for great meal, snack, and dessert ideas or sign up to receive our recipe of the month.

Greater Boston Hunger Network

Without a professional network, food pantries in separate towns were operating in isolation. Launched in 2013, the Greater Boston Hunger Network formed a coalition of 32 food pantries and food-related programs in 24 towns around Greater Boston. Established in partnership with the Greater Boston Food Bank and Project Bread, the Hunger Network provides an ongoing way for food programs to learn from one another, address common challenges, and promote best practices to improve food pantry capacity and reach more people with more nutritious food, more efficiently. We hold six meetings each year that focus on professional development and networking for food pantry managers and their lead volunteers. Contact nutrition@jfcsboston.org to find out more.

Creating Healthy Food Pantries

Many food pantries want to provide foods that promote good health but lack the in-house nutrition expertise to make impactful and efficient changes. We work in partnership with these food programs in order to make the healthy choice the easy choice for clients. We have partnered with JF&CS Family Table, the Brookline Food Pantry and the town of Brookline, and Milford Daily Bread and the Hockomock Area YMCA in the past several years.

Specific activities are tailored to each pantry and may include:
  1. Connecting managers with existing resources, including sources of nutritious foods at the Greater Boston Food Bank, Boston Area Gleaners, Lovin’ Spoonfuls, and other food rescue organizations. We also convene a nutrition policies working group and connect participating pantries to capacity-building resources for increasing perishable food storage.
  2. Training staff and volunteers on strategies for improving the nutritional value of provided foods. Topics include achieving a nutritional balance of distributed foods that adhere to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, accessing nutritious foods from the Greater Boston Food Bank, storing perishable foods to increase shelf life, and utilizing product placement, recipe cards, and recipe tastings to promote healthy choices.
  3. Nudging clients to make healthier choices. Nudging refers to behavioral economics principles commonly used to change purchasing behaviors. Techniques include recipe tastings at distributions to make new foods enticing, distributing healthy, family friendly recipes, and placing trained volunteers at tastings to promote healthy choices.

Contact nutrition@jfcsboston.org to find out more.

Recipe for Success

    • We are expert registered dietitian nutritionists and trained volunteers.
    • We offer interactive nutrition education using real food to build experience and confidence.
    • We show how healthy eating can be simple and affordable.
    • We encourage small, consistent changes to make a big impact over time.
    • We use an evidence-based approach and individualize our work to addresses specific challenges.

For more information, call 781-647-JFCS (5327) or email your questions via our contact us page.

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781-647-JFCS (5327)
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Headquarters
1430 Main Street
Waltham, MA 02451
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