The Healthy Bellies Program

513

The Food Beat, the online food network for Delray Beach, and partner Pro Video Source provides video services to local nonprofit organizations. You can see all of the nonprofit videos we have created on our website, TheFoodBeat.com. Today, we are featuring our first food related nonprofit, Healthy Bellies. Not long ago, after completing yet another wonderful meal at DaDa, our waiter presented us with a card that explained a program called Healthy Bellies. As I began to read it, DaDa manager and all around good guy Carlos Gambarini sat down to fully explain the concept. And what a concept it is. The brainchild of DaDa Executive Chef/ Owner Bruce Feingold and his wife Amanda, Healthy Bellies aspires to provide healthier eating and food education for the working poor in Delray Beach. Working directly with The Achievement Center, Healthy Bellies, in a remarkably short period of time, has made a significant impact. And they’re just getting started. “We really loved what The Achievement Center does for the Delray Beach community and we working on ideas on how we could help.” said Chef Feingold. “Most of our ideas were costly and had a significant amount of risk involved, and then one day I said, wait a minute…I cook for a living. Why not build our effort around that?” The Feingold’s desire to make a difference was in line with the objectives of the Achievement Center. The center, located near Lake Ida road, has been serving the working poor community in Palm Beach County since 1969, and hundreds of children in the Delray Beach community have been served by their efforts. The centers goal is to provide affordable quality care to children whose parents otherwise could not maintain their job or go to school without help. Programs are designed to meet a child’s academic, social, emotional and physical needs. Every family that benefits from the centers effort must have at least one parent working, and contribute something financially each month. The center offers toddler, preschool, afterschool, teen, adult and family programs. The families served have limited or no access to quality childcare, educational support services or extracurricular activities which ultimately influence and inspire children. One of the most critical components of the centers mission is to provide meals for children who often live with a condition known more commonly as “food anxiety.” Many of the centers children come from homes where they must ration their food to make sure there is some for meals throughout the day, and in some cases, to ensure siblings can eat. “I can’t imagine living in those types of conditions or having our own child not know where their next meal is coming from. Healthy Bellies will hopefully create the ability to increase the number of meals served, as well as make them more healthy” Chef Feingold added. The grass roots movement is brilliant in its simplicity and has potential to create a duplicable blue print for other communities. At the conclusion of your meal, a Healthy Bellies information card is presented. Diners can donate any amount they choose, if they choose, and that amount is added to the bill without tax or tip being associated. Everyone is encouraged to complete the contact card, which enters them into a drawing, even if they choose not to donate. Names are drawn on a regular basis and those selected are treated to Chef Feingold coming to their home to teach them how to prepare a meal for six. 100% of the donated proceeds are then given to The Achievement Center at the end of each month. The hope is that the increased source of revenue will help the center in making healthier meals for the children, as well as increase the number of meals prepared. But there is another wrinkle in the Feingold’s plan that makes Healthy Bellies and even greater resource for cash strapped families. “Our plan is to actually teach the families whose children attend the Achievement Center how to prepare healthy meals at home with a limited budget” Chef Feingold said. “The goal is to set up shop at the Achievement Center on a regular basis, bring in food, and show the families how to get the most out of their limited resources by teaching creative meal preparation.” Bruce and Amanda Feingold and the partners at DaDa have always been community oriented and contributed to many local organizations over the years. Healthy Bellies can forever change the landscape of hunger for those less fortunate, and according to Chef Feingold, there is no limit to the potential if they can get a little help from their friends. “We have made the process very simple for others to participate and it’s our hope that more restaurants in Delray Beach will get involved. The exponential growth is staggering when you consider the amount of revenue five or six restaurants could generate with patrons just donating a dollar.” What a concept indeed. For more information regarding Healthy Bellies and how to get involved, visit TheFoodBeat.com and click on the Nonprofit Showcase.