Waltham Connections

We are pleased to announce our partnership with the Tufts Health Plan Foundation in launching our newest project: Waltham Connections for Healthier Aging! The Waltham Connections program was born from Brandeis University Professor Walter Leutz’s 2015 study using community-based participatory action research to understand and improve healthy aging in Waltham. Along with recruiting and training senior volunteer co-researchers, conducting agency interviews and focus groups, writing reports, Leutz also helped create a senior/agency Steering Group which ultimately created this initiative. The theme of “connections” is at the heart of our work in trying to connect seniors to one another and create a more age-friendly city.

Waltham Connections focuses on community and civic engagement to build on the knowledge
and dreams of local seniors and agencies. Following the World Health Organization’s Healthy Aging model, the Steering Group will lead several working groups focusing on issues ranging from social participation, communication & information, inclusion, and in-home services. The healthy aging movement looks at how seniors can live both physically and socially active lives, and also maintain a healthy diet, and get regular access to health care and support services.

With this initiative, we strive to promote and include lower income, homebound, minority and immigrant seniors in healthy aging. To reach these communities, we are working with agency and senior representatives from these populations to participate in our Work Groups to aid in designing age-friendly programs and policies to benefit all Waltham seniors. We strive to reduce the disparities arising from language, class, and disability.

Agencies we are working with include: Waltham Council on Aging and Housing Authority, Neighbors Who Care, the YMCA, JF&CS, the League of Women Voters, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Brandeis University, Mt. Auburn and Newton-Wellesley Hospitals, Springwell, the City of Waltham, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Rotary. With this partnership, we hope to improve access to supports and services, health and wellness, social participation, better coordination of in-home services, and provide a forum for seniors to have a greater voice in determining needed changes that affect their livelihood.

We are excited to share more healthy aging events as they develop over the course of this project and beyond. We look forward to this endeavor and hope you will join us in making Waltham an example for age-friendly cities. To get involved with this project, please email connections@healthy-waltham.org.

Support Our Community!

We’re working together to support the health of Waltham’s neediest residents. Click below to see our video of Healthy Waltham programs in 2016! We could not do this work without your support. But, there is still so much to do. Keep community health a priority for Waltham in 2017 with a year end gift to Healthy Waltham. A small gift goes a long way. Checks can be sent to Healthy Waltham at 510 Moody St., Waltham, MA, 02453, or click on the button at the top of the page to donate securely through PayPal. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, all donations are tax-deductible. Thank you!

Learning about Health Education

We were very lucky to have Annie Fortnow interning with Healthy Waltham this semester! She has been a wonderful addition to our team and a great presence at numerous events and workshops. She shared some thoughts on her time with us. Thanks, Annie!

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By Annie Fortnow, Brandeis ’17annie

Interning at Healthy Waltham this semester has broadened my knowledge of food access and education and introduced me to the structure of a small nonprofit organization. So far, my internship has had me working with underserved populations in Waltham to teach them about the importance of healthy eating. During one of the first weeks of the internship, I visited the Greater Waltham Arc, an organization that caters to adults with disabilities, to help lead a healthy cooking demo. We taught how to make healthy pizzas and had our students cut the vegetables for the pizza toppings, roll out the dough, and apply the toppings. Working at this event helped me remember why I became passionate about food justice in the first place. Food and cooking help bring people together. Since everybody eats, food and cooking serve as topics that everyone, no matter their background, can bond over. Encouraging healthy cooking with fresh ingredients both promotes community and helps create healthier individuals in our neighborhood.

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Annie and Reva at the Outreach Market

In addition to cooking demos, I have gotten the opportunity to provide healthy food samples at the Outreach Market put on by Waltham Fields Community Farm. The Outreach Market serves as an opportunity for low-income individuals in Waltham to receive subsidized fresh vegetables. Healthy Waltham sets up a table at the market every week with samples featuring some of the vegetables offered. Providing these samples allows the customers shopping at the market to see what they can do with the vegetables they pick out. Educating others at the Outreach Market helps me bring context to the work that I love to do. Access to local, fresh food is an issue that is extremely important to me. Through my work with the rooftop farm project at Brandeis as the Donation Coordinator, I have gotten to see the impact of providing fresh produce to those in need. Without education about how to use this produce, however, individuals who have never had access to this kind of food may not know what to do with it. My experience with Healthy Waltham taught me the importance of giving context to fresh food distribution.

As I continue my internship with Healthy Waltham, I feel excited and honored to work with more individuals within the Waltham community to educate them about healthy eating as well as other health topics. As a senior, I hope to use this experience to determine whether or not health education is a viable career path for me and how I can best use my prior knowledge about food justice and environmental health to help Healthy Waltham.

 

Visiting Chef Program Returns

We’re very excited that the “Fresh! Chef-to-School” program is returning to the Waltham Public Schools for the 2016-2017 school year. Continuing our partnership with the Waltham School Nutrition Department, Chef Reva will visit all elementary school cafeterias to work with cafeteria staff and encourage kids try new foods. The “Fresh! Chef-to-School” program helps to educate kids to make healthy food choices and promotes life-long healthy eating habits. We’re working to create new dishes that are both healthy and delicious, with an emphasis on local, seasonably available produce. After learning about the featured fruit or vegetable of the day, all kids get to try a sample. Favorite recipes may turn up as regular features on school menus!

So far this year, our Confetti Cornbread has been very popular! In fact, one child said, “Your Confetti Cornbread tastes like rainbows.”

Confetti Cornbread

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Samples of Confetti Cornbread ready to be served

To make Healthy Waltham’s crowd-pleasing Confetti Cornbread, simply combine equal parts of your favorite cornbread/corn muffin mix (such as Betty Crocker, Arrowhead Mills, or Bob’s Red Mill) with grated vegetables such as carrots, zucchini, or summer squash (approximately 1 cup mix to 1 cup vegetables). Add water according to package instructions or until your desired consistency is reached – we tend to like ours on the thicker side! Then spread the mixture in a well-greased baking dish or use a muffin tin. Bake at 350F until golden brown on top and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center, 20-25 minutes for cornbread, 15-20 minutes for muffins.

This is a great way to take a store-bought mix and add a big punch of nutrients. Half of the cornbread ends up being pure vegetables! If you’re looking for a lighter, more savory option, try this recipe, featured at this year’s Farmers’ Market and Waltham Fields Community Farm’s Outreach Market:

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School Nutrition Director April Liles with Chef Reva

Other “Fresh! Chef-to-School” recipes:

 

Healthy Summer Drinks

The heat is on! It’s important to stay well hydrated during these hot summer days. While water is your healthy choice, when you crave something different, why not try a homemade beverage or smoothie? You can avoid the high calorie and sugar content of commercially prepared beverages like sodas or frozen coffee drinks. Plus, homemade tastes great!

Try these suggestions from Chef Reva:

Raspberry Lime Sparkler

Fruit and Herb Water

Sparkling Peach Iced Tea

Cherry Mint Limeade

Pineapple Coconut Agua Fresca

Fruit Smoothie