|Soraya Juarez holds a box of Farm Fresh organic produce delivered weekly to employees.
The Garden Fresh Series is a perk that employees don't want to miss.
Starting in July, the series offers free educational events, cooking demonstrations and other opportunities focused on the benefits of eating more seasonal produce, especially organic veggies and fruit grow locally. The series goes into September.
Here's the menu of opportunities:
- Healthy cooking demonstrations, with recipes and sampling, will be held at Poudre Valley Hospital, Medical Center of the Rockies, Harmony Campus and Greeley Medical Center.
- Garden Fresh recipes will be available online for employees who can't attend cooking demonstrations. Watch VIC for details.
- Lunch-hour talks, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., will be given by local experts. They will offer advice about cooking with herbs, vegetables and fruits for vegetarians, non-vegetarians and people who prefer gluten-free or vegan foods.
- Some noon talks will focus on gardening tips for summer growing and fall harvesting.
- Employees in northern Colorado can sign up for the Farm Fresh Program, where fresh, locally grown organic vegetables and fruit are delivered each Monday to pick-up sites at PVH, MCR and Harmony Campus.
The year-round Farm Fresh Program is provided through Door to Door Organics, which works with such local growers as Grant Family Farms, Full Circle Farms, Lippis Farms, Osage Gardens, and First Fruits. University of Colorado Health employees receive discounts.
For the July calendar of presentations: Garden Fresh. Look on VIC later in the month for the following month's calendar.
Passion for wellness
Sarah Morales, LiveWell's wellness dietitian, is passionate about finding ways to make a difference for people, so she decided to help employees learn more about one of important basics of wellness: eating healthy. To do this, she went beyond the traditional communication method used by many companies: passing out brochures and pamphlets to employees in attempts to make them healthier.
"People have to experience food that is tasty as well as healthy," she said. "That's going to convince them more than anything else."
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Morales tapped into advice offered through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website for employers that want to provide nutritional information to their staffs. She localized the information and drew on her own extensive knowledge, and, in the summer of 2007, launched a garden market onsite at PVH and MCR. The idea for the garden market evolved during the following summers into today's Garden Fresh Series.
Employee support has been admirable. In a survey given after last year's series, 67 percent of respondents reported increasing their fruit and veggie consumption, while 74 percent said they tried a new way of preparing food to make it healthier.
Children become enthusiastic followers
Soraya Juarez, an outpatient coding assistant at the Harmony Campus Redstone Building, said she became an advocate largely out of the necessity of wanting her children to eat healthier foods.
As a mother of three young children, Juarez found that it was a daunting task to introduce new ways to serve fruits and vegetables at home meals.
"The displays and demonstrations that Sarah did shed a helpful light on how to do this," Juarez said.
Juarez volunteered to be the co-op leader for the Door to Door Organics program at Harmony Campus. Her duties consist of making sure employees who are signed up for the program get their produce after it is delivered on Mondays.
"I've enjoyed being able to present my coworkers with fresh fruit and vegetables every week," she said.
At home, her children and husband have become enthusiastic followers.
"My kids ask me every Monday ‘What food did you bring home this week?'" she said. "They love unpacking the box."
"We have benefitted tremendously. My kids have fresh fruit or vegetables at every meal and we make fresh fruit smoothies and have fresh vegetable juice. They all love it, and the best part is that I know the fruit is fresh and free of chemicals."
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