There’s no better way to promote community health than by expanding access to food that’s fresh, nutritious and local. That’s why in January 2019 Ochsner partnered with Market Umbrella to launch the Crescent City Farmers Market at Ochsner West Campus. It provides new and fresh food options for employees, patients and neighbors of Ochsner’s Jefferson Highway campus. Every Wednesday, 15 local farmers and vendors offer an array of local, seasonal fruits and vegetables, local seafood, grass-fed proteins, baked goods and other locally sourced items. In addition, Ochsner’s Eat Fit team of nutritionists present on-site cooking demonstrations, and the mobile O Bar offers the latest in cutting-edge, interactive health technology. To make fresh food more affordable for low-income residents, the market provides incentive programs, including a dollar-for-dollar match of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits spent at the market.
The choices individuals make when they purchase and prepare food are important to their health, but so too is ensuring that healthy choices are available on the menu when they dine out. That’s why, in 2013, Ochsner nutritionist and registered dietician Molly Kimball worked with leaders at Ochsner to create Ochsner Eat Fit, an initiative to make nourishing, balanced meals more readily available in New Orleans-area restaurants. In the years since, Ochsner Eat Fit has expanded statewide, offering healthy, nutritious dining options well beyond the New Orleans community to Lafayette, Lake Charles, Shreveport and Baton Rouge. Today, participating restaurants that have added Eat Fit items to their menu total more than 350. In 2019 the initiative was broadened even more with the publication of Molly Kimball’s Eat Fit Cookbook. It features more than 125 recipes, along with fitness tips, all designed to empower people to enjoy and indulge while staying healthy.
Sometimes tragedy can be the catalyst to bring communities together to save lives. The tragic 2010 drowning of six Shreveport teenagers was the genesis for a Northwest Louisiana water safety program that, with financial support from Ochsner LSU Health, has to date reached more than 9,000 second graders with life-saving instruction.
The “Swim for Life” program is a partnership between the YMCA of Northwest Louisiana, Caddo Parish Schools and the Community Foundation of North Louisiana. As part of the initiative, every Caddo Parish second grader receives four days of water safety training at the YMCA. Incorporating both classroom and in-pool instruction, the program’s emphasis is on safety around water — teaching kids about how to avoid or get out of dangerous situations in water as quickly as possible.