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Photo Friday - How Chewbacca Helped Children's Health Fund

May the Force be with the Children's Health Fund.  In 2005, George Lucas selected Children's Health Fund as the charity that would benefit from the New York City red carpet premiere of Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith. Pictured at the premiere, with Karen and Irwin Redlener... the one and only Chewbacca.  We're sure he stays warm in this snowy winter weather!

Delicious AND Nutritious… Why I Loved Microwave Cooking

by Caitlin McFeely, Communications Associate, Children's Health Fund

Cara, of the Nutrition Team at the New York Children’s Health Project, shows the class how to cook up a proper family meal. Try these sure-to-please recipies from the team Microwave Chicken Parmesan with Whole Wheat Spaghetti in Marinara Sauce Green Beans Simply Easy Cheesecake.

Yesterday, I visited a shelter in New York City with members of the New York Children’s Health Project (NYCHP)’s nutrition team (Vicky, Cara, and Maya) to take part in a cooking class that teaches moms in the shelter how they can create a healthy and delicious meal, all in the microwave. As I admitted in yesterday’s blog post, I was skeptical that the meal we cooked would really be tasty. Could microwave chicken parmesan really compare with my mom’s chicken parmesan made from scratch? Well, sorry mom, but it really did!

A few reasons why I loved yesterday’s class:

  1. The class is really helpful for the moms in the shelter and they totally appreciate learning how to cook using the microwave. In fact, a few moms had just moved into the shelter and were attending for the first time. You could see they were really paying attention to the recipe and I think were as surprised as me to find out how good the food tasted!
  2. Vicky and team do a great job of integrating nutrition tips into the lesson. For example, since we were cooking pasta, one of the important nutrition tips focused on portion size from foods in the grain group. Since 1 serving of cooked pasta = ½ cup and women are only supposed to have 5 servings from the grain food group for the entire day, Vicky explained that it’s important to watch how much pasta you serve yourself and your kids!
  3. Cooking in the microwave is quick, easy, and the food tastes good. I was amazed at how tender and tasty the chicken was, and it only took 15 minutes total to prepare. And the cheese cake… INCREDIBLE!

But for me, the absolute best part about the class was that the moms can bring their children. It was adorable to see the 3-year olds helping mix the pasta sauce or the batter for the cheesecake. I hope that by participating and learning how to cook a meal that is delicious and nutritious from such an early age, these kids will be set on a healthy track throughout their childhood.

Vicky and team are in the process of working on a cookbook of microwave recipes that they can share with other shelters across New York City.

But as a little treat, Vicky has agreed to share our recipe from yesterday. Try it out… I know you won’t be disappointed!

Thanks to the NYCHP team and the moms for letting me join in on class yesterday!

What’s Cooking? A Creative Solution for Shelter Residents

by Caitlin McFeely, Communications Associate, Children's Health Fund

How would you create a homemade meal if you had no kitchen space and only a microwave oven to cook it in?  You’d probably have to be very creative to find a solution that was not only tasty, but nutritional as well.

Today, I am heading to a New York City shelter -- where Children’s Health Fund’s New York Children’s Health Project (NYCHP) provides services for kids and families -- to take part in a new cooking class that teaches moms in the shelter just that…how they can create a healthy and delicious meal, all in the microwave.

The idea for a microwave cooking class was devised by NYCHP’s nutrition team when they saw the many challenges families living in shelters faced when it came to food security.  The temporary apartments in this particular shelter have no kitchen space, only a microwave and a small refrigerator. Without a stove, many of the residents had difficulty preparing meals and oftentimes were forced into making unhealthy food choices—like fast food or frozen meals—when it came time for dinner. 

Once a month, NYCHP Nutritionist Victoria Stein prepares a menu of easy recipes (including desserts!!).  Prior to the class, Victoria maps out the meal she will help the moms learn to make, ensuring the ingredients are healthy, easy to find, and affordable.  On class days, the group gathers in the shelter, learns to cook the meal together, and then sits down to enjoy their creation.  In addition to teaching them how to make the meal, Vicky also gives the moms nutrition tips and teaches them about microwave safety.  It is a great way for the moms to come together, socialize, and learn how to provide healthy meals for their kids, given their current situation.

I must say, I am not sure what to expect from today’s class (where we will be cooking chicken parmesan, whole wheat pasta with marinara sauce, and cheesecake).  Will that really taste good when cooked in the microwave?  I guess I will find out soon enough.

Be sure to check Children's Health Fund’s Twitter for live tweets from the class and check back here tomorrow for my reaction and for some photos. 

Have you tried any microwave recipes you’d like to share?  Let us know.

Photo Friday - 20 Years of Providing Health Care for Kids in Mississippi

►Since 1991, Children's Health Fund and Aaron E. Henry Community Health Center have partnered to bring quality health care services to children in remote communities of the Mississippi Delta region.  The Mississippi Children's Health Project  has worked to address access barriers like lack of transportation, lack of insurance, geographic isolation and lack of financial resources, all which prevent kids (like the patients photographed here) from getting the health care they need and deserve.

Every Smile Tells a Story. Connect with Jorge Update.

A smile is worth a thousand words, and when we got this picture from Jorge and his mom Latoya, we could not wait to share an update with you.

Almost a year ago, we introduced you to Jorge as part of the “Connect Kids to Care” program we launched with our partner Clorox.  For Jorge, his genetic disorder, glactosemia, was challenging for his parents, and had the potential to lead to bigger problems if left untreated.  Through the quality care and guidance they receive on the Children’s Health Fund mobile clinic, Jorge’s parents are able to manage his disorder and watch him grow into a happy and healthy young boy.

And, with the help of many Facebook fans, we reached over 100,000 “likes” on Clorox’s page which triggered a generous $100,000 donation from Clorox (in addition to the $500,000 donation they gave to help Children’s Health Fund reach our goal of providing more than half a million health care visits to kids, just like Jorge, over the next two years!)

Jorge’s mom Latoya says: “Jorge is great!  He turned three last October and is a healthy three year old boy (thanks in part to his still visiting Dr. Robin Scott on a regular basis).  Jorge can identify all of the letters of the alphabet by sight and sound.  I created a song for him to help him remember how to spell out his first and last name.  He LOVES Spiderman and Yo Gabba Gabba.  He even dressed up like “Brobee” from Yo Gabba Gabba on Halloween and was excited to tell everyone he saw:  “I’m Brobee.” 

It’s no wonder, we can’t help grinning when we hear stories like this. 

Stay tuned for some new and exciting news from “Connect Kids to Care” and patients like Jorge! 

Photo Friday - Remembering the Children and Families in Haiti

Dr. Aruturo Brito in Haiti 2010

► Pictured above is CHF's Dr. Arturo Brito who traveled to Haiti in January 2010 to provide medical care and assess the impact the earthquake had on Haiti's children.  As we mark the one year anniversary, our thoughts are with the people and children of Haiti.

Photo Friday - High Five to a New Year and New Resolutions!

►As 2011 rolls in, Children's Health Fund resolves to make this year (our 24th year in service) our best yet! 

We will continue working to safeguard the gains made for children under the health care law signed in 2010; we will deliver care and connect kids across the U.S. to our multi-disciplinary teams of practitioners and specialists -- all working together to provide comprehensive, accessible, quality health care, regardless of the patient's ability to pay; and we will use our innovative spirit, our unique mobile, dental and mental health clinics, our experts in the field, and our pioneering work in the field of information technology to develop models of care that work for highly vulnerable, at-risk children. 

We hope you will come on board in 2011 to help raise support for the children we serve and the work that we do!

Photo Friday - Happy New Year from CHF!!

From our family to yours, wishing you a happy and healthy 2011.

► CHF President Dr. Irwin Redlener and CHF Executive Director Karen Redlener standing in front one of our first Mobile Medical Clinics.

Photo Friday - A Warm & Safe Holiday to All!

► Happy Holidays from Children's Health Fund!

Growing Our Fleet

By Jonathan Rabinowitz, Fleet Manager, Children’s Health Fund

What a year to be Fleet Manager! Here at Children's Health Fund we have six new vehicles (five of them mobile clinics) on the road that we didn't have last year.  It has been a lot of hard work and attention to detail to make sure that every project's vehicle matches as best we can what is needed for that specific project's staff and patients. You would think that because the mobile clinics are all blue on the outside, that they are all the same inside, but this is emphatically not the case.

Laniqua Roussell, Program Manager, New Orleans Children's Health Project and Jonathan Rabinowitz, CHF Fleet Manager  in front of new Crisis UnitOne new vehicle is the Colorado transit van, supported by American Idol “Idol Gives Back,” that was delivered in the fall. The Telluride Foundation Medical Shuttle is a Chevrolet Express van that picks up residents of three rural Colorado counties and takes them to their medical appointments. You can read more about it (and see a picture) in this informative article from the Telluride Daily Planet.

Vehicle no. 2 is the Plaquemines Crisis Response Unit. Back in January, I had seen this 1995 International van in the parking lot at Parkland Hospital, in Dallas, Texas (near where our Dallas Children’s Health Project is located), when it was buff-colored and retired from active service. But I found out it had new generators, and a Diesel engine with only 62,000 miles on it—practically brand new. So, after the oil spill crisis, when Dr. Redlener was looking for a unit that could treat patients in Plaquemines Parish, I suggested that we buy this one from Parkland, fix it up, paint it blue, and deliver it to Louisiana. Thanks goes out to our friends at Miller's RV in Baton Rouge, LA, who took on the monster job of buffing and painting it in the midst of hurricane season.

Our third mobile clinic is the New York Children's Health Project Mobile Dental Clinic. This vehicle replaces an older dental van and will bring dental services to the New York Children’s Health Project’s network of clinical sites. It will be staffed by Montefiore Medical Center dentists, our clinical partner for New York Children's Health Project, and can already be seen on New York streets.

Our next new vehicle is also a New York Project clinic, the American Idol “Idol Gives Back” mobile medical clinic, with additional support from Deerfield Foundation and Siemens. It is a brand new vehicle, with a Winnebago shell and a colorful interior that was designed specifically with the needs and wants of our kid patients in mind. Early reports say that both children and staff love it!

And last on the list are two brand-new vehicles from Farber Specialty Vehicles, in Columbus, Ohio, that are now in Detroit, Michigan and Newark, New Jersey.  Stylistically, the lay-out of these units are a bit different and the entire front of the vehicle was turned into a THIRD exam room, allowing clinical providers in Newark, NJ and in Detroit, MI even more flexibility to treat patients. The Detroit mobile medical clinic, funded by American Idol “Idol Gives Back” has a larger waiting area in the middle, with an additional sink; the New Jersey mobile medical clinic, funded by Webkinz Foundation has a larger room in front, with a state-of-the-art convertible chair that flips up and down, so that it can be used not only for medical exams but for dental exams as well.

I know the staff and patients at our programs around the National Network are tremendously excited for their new vehicles, as am I.  Good luck and drive safely!

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