Maintaining a well-balanced diet can be costly and time consuming, factors that can make it nearly impossible for busy families, older adults or anyone with a busy schedule or limited income.
Here at The Open Door, we know how hard it can be to shop for and prepare healthy meals on a budget, which is why we launched our program, Healthy Choice Easy Choice, in 2016. Initially, the program sought to build on the 2,000 square foot expansion of The Open Door warehouse and food pantry client-directed reconfiguration in 2014 and 2015. This capital investment focused on bringing more nutrient-dense food into the building, reducing client wait times and creating a more hospitable, welcoming environment.
Now with more products in the building, The Open Door focuses on increasing client consumption of fresh, healthy foods through Healthy Choice Easy Choice.
Healthy Choice Easy Choice encompasses an initiative that permeates through all The Open Door’s programs: making healthy food items, snacks, and meals readily and consistently available to clients to ensure they have the food they need to thrive.
“A healthy diet comes with so many profound benefits. It can improve your overall health, help manage certain conditions, improve your mood, and more. We’re committed to ensuring our clients have consistent access to healthy choices because everyone deserves access to good, healthy food for a well-balanced life,” President and CEO Julie LaFontaine said. “Sometimes, all it takes is having pre-sliced veggies or a pre-cooked meal to set someone on the path for a healthier lifestyle.”
The Open Door aims for 30% of food distributed to clients annually to be produce.
Before COVID-19 hit, the initiative manifested itself in a variety of ways at The Open Door. The kitchen prepared extra food while making daily Community Meals, so that among the shelves clients would find pre-prepared produce and other items such as sliced onions, shredded cabbage, or peeled and cubed turnip to reduce preparation time for healthy meals at home.
Staff and volunteers would also pre-prepare healthy snacks in ready-to-go containers, like carrots and ranch dressing bundled together for snacking. Fully cooked items would also be made available, when possible, like rotisserie chickens.
Pre-COVID, our team offered a Sample Center, point-of-service nutrition education or taste-tests, in our dining room where clients could taste new, healthy foods and receive recipes while they shopped. The program also recognizes that clients sometimes wait until they are physically hungry to come to a food pantry and having something already prepared on-hand makes sure clients have healthy ready-to-eat snacks or meals immediately available.
While in-person dining and shopping The Open Door’s Emerson Avenue facility has not yet resumed for clients amid the pandemic, clients continue to have access to healthy groceries and well-balanced meals they receive through pick-up or delivery. Our new online ordering system at The Open Door gives clients more choice than ever while placing a grocery order including many Healthy Choice Easy Choice options, like homemade pesto.
As a result of the new online ordering system, no matter where a client lives across our 10 cities and towns, all clients have access to more choices than ever before. A healthy grocery order is just a click away, and easier than ever for clients to order.
The Open Door is committed to offering a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables each week to clients. In addition to acquiring produce through The Greater Boston Food Bank, thanks to community support, The Open Door purchases a significant amount of fresh fruits and vegetables, milk and eggs to ensure that clients have consistent access to good, healthy food. The Open Door also ensures that culturally responsive food is also available.
Each weekday, The Open Door kitchen also prepares a balanced Community Meal for clients. Delicious meals whipped up by our dedicated kitchen team range from Local Fish Fridays (haddock) with broccoli and roast potatoes to roast chicken, roasted butternut squash with sage, cabbage & apple salad.
For more information, contact The Open Door at email@example.com.