We’re all familiar with food box delivery services. You sign up for a subscription and get all the ingredients delivered so you can prepare meals at home and skip the grocery store and meal planning.

The folks at CHANGE Health Community Program (CHCP) recently took this model and applied it to their healthy eating and meal preparation program once the COVID-19 pandemic paused their ability to meet in person with families.

Before the pandemic, they’d meet weekly to prepare meals and explore topics around physical activity, healthy eating, mental health and connecting socially. With the public health guidelines about physical distancing, the CHCP team had to work quickly to brainstorm ways they could still support families in our new reality. The CHCP Program Box was developed to provide families with healthy food and activity options.

“At times like this, families need to connect more than ever. The CHANGE health community program has adapted our face-to-face programming to a virtual program to ensure families stay connected through these challenging times,” says Dr. Doug Klein, principle investigator of the CHANGE Health Community Program and a local family physician.

The first CHCP Program Box was delivered to families in Edmonton and area, who then prepared a plant-based marinara pasta recipe. The box was created in partnership with Habesha African Market. In partnership with Bag Half Full, a group of medical students at the University of Alberta, the program boxes were safely delivered to participating families.

Families really enjoyed the recipe, noting that it was helpful to have a meal planned for them and that even picky eaters tried and enjoyed the recipe.

  • One family shared: “We just had the most wonderful lunch today because of you! And there’s even leftovers for supper! It was so healthy and so good.” 
  • Another family shared: “Normally my son doesn’t like zucchini, but with this recipe, he ate them without problem. Thank you for the ingredients and the recipe. We really enjoy cooking together.”

The second CHCP Program Box focused on helping connect families with their food, providing families with a seedling kit in addition to ingredients for a choice of two recipes. 

Families shared their excitement with the program team.

  • “We love the gardening supplies and bag of goodies!  We’re so excited about using the recipes and starting our garden!  I can’t thank you all enough for the wonderful ideas, connections and opportunities!”
  • We are going to see who can grow the best vegetables and flowers. Today we were choosing some seeds. We are not gardeners so it’s a challenge.”

Alberta Blue Cross partnered with Dr. Doug Klein of the University of Alberta’s Department of Family Medicine and his team to launch CHCP, which supports families as they come together to “re-learn healthy living” in their communities. Health professionals, such as dietitians, exercise specialists and mental health clinicians help guide these sessions and respond to questions that families might have. 

“By taking a preventative approach to health, the CHCP endeavors to help families learn how to address health concerns before they start and how to access services when they are needed,” explains Crystal Corrigan, wellness partnership and innovation specialist at Alberta Blue Cross. “At the same time, the program helps families build related skills and resilience for unexpected things that may come up.”

CHCP continues to accept participating families into the program.    We look forward to seeing how these partnerships develop and how the CHCP continues to evolve in response to families’ needs amid this public health emergency. If you are interested in participating in the CHCP Program, please email chcp@ualberta.ca to register.

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