Innovative program at Hayward Wellness stirs up success for patient health

Healthy eating and physical activity are essential for good health. At Hayward Wellness, a new initiative is underway to promote these healthy behaviors for patients from low-income communities where obesity is prevalent.

The Healthy Eating for Good Health Program is made possible through a partnership with Cooking Matters and is supported by a grant from the Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit Program in Southern Alameda County. The program increases access to nutritious foods for families living on tight budgets, and supports them in achieving a healthier lifestyle through group classes offered in both English and Spanish. The program draws on the success of Bite-to-Balance, a similar initiative at Alameda Health System’s Highland Hospital.

Utilizing the demonstration kitchen at Hayward Wellness, the program incorporates a six-week Cooking Matters course in which patients attend weekly, hands-on cooking classes that feature healthy recipes. At each session, youth and adults alike learn to prepare nutritious, affordable meals using fresh produce.

In addition, the classes provide recipes to take home, tips for budget-conscious grocery shopping, and a bag of fresh, locally-grown fruits and vegetables provided through a partnership with a local community organization, Dig Deep Farms & Produce. Before and after the six-week Cooking Matters course, groups meet once a month for ongoing support to incorporate healthy foods and physical activity into their daily lives, utilizing resources such as the Alameda County Food Bank and the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District.

Led by Hayward Wellness’ Medical Director, as well as a nutritionist, a nurse practitioner and a health educator, the Healthy Eating Program aims to address health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, and other complications associated with obesity.

Since the grant-funded classes began earlier this year, more than 60 patients have been served. While the evaluation of the program won’t be completed for several months, participation levels and satisfaction rates are high—an indication of the program’s success.

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