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On a recent steamy evening at the Jordan Boys & Girls Club in Chelsea, a crowd of kids pulling their parents scramble out of the front door to meet a big white school bus – The Fresh Truck Mobile Market – rolling in for the Farm to Family evening at the Club.

Ilda Bonitto and her daughter Alyssa are among the parents and kids who line up to buy berries, melons, lettuce and all the other summer treats that local farms produce – and then head in for dinner. “This is so easy and everything is so fresh,” Ilda explains “and Alyssa learns how to shop.”

“Eat lots of fruits and veggies and eat together as a family” is a recipe for raising healthy children that all parents understand. But anyone who has ever had kids knows that it’s easier said than done.

That’s where Chef Grace Lichaa and the Farm to Family program come in. With support from the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation and the Himmel Hospitality Group, Club members grow, taste and cook fresh vegetables, take cooking classes with their families and even “assist” chefs at the Himmel restaurants. And like the evening at the Jordan Club, there’s a family dinner series where families eat together and get free produce and recipes to take home.

This attention to healthy eating isn’t just a feature of BCGB’s summer schedule, it’s been an essential focus for nearly a decade. The Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation and the Himmel Group have worked together over several years to make healthy food a priority for all Club activities. Farm to Family extends these Club activities to members’ homes so that families can eat healthier, too.

Ilda’s favorite part of the program? “Alyssa and I are cooking together and that’s been really fun.”

Karen Voci
– President, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation