Although most in the Wellesley community consider enjoying meals as a daily routine, some charitable organizations like Meals2Heal make it their goal to improve the lives of those who are unable to enjoy a healthy and fresh meal. The Meals2Heal program provides that important eating experience to people undergoing cancer treatments.
During the fall of 2016 a collaboration between the Wellesley Cancer Prevention Project (WCCP), volunteers, Newton Wellesley Hospital, and restaurants located in Wellesley founded and launched the program. The Meals2Heal program currently offers cancer patients meals in Wellesley, Weston, Wayland, Natick, Newton, Dover, Sherborn, and Needham.
Meals2Heal is a program created to advocate awareness on the importance of healthy eating to reduce the risk of cancer in general and promote the health of those in treatment. The Local, Captain Marden’s, and Susu Bakery which are the restaurants in the Meals2Heal program strive to serve healthy meals by serving nutrient packed foods. One can purchase a meal for a patient by simply calling your preferred restaurant between 11am-4pm on weekdays. Once you inform the of the recipient’s name and and phone number a WCPP volunteer will deliver the meal.
“I have a background in patient care from my days at U Mass Memorial Hospital,” said Mark Tosches, Captain Marden’s restaurant director. “Our number one goal in patient recovery was to offer healthy meals. The most difficult part of that process was to get it to them when they wanted to eat. Cancer care often kills the patient’s desire to eat. When they return home they also have to do the work to prepare the food. They end up opting for quick and easy foods which often are lacking in healthy value. We felt that it was a great idea if someone took that burden off their plate.”
“People who open their door to a Meals2Heal volunteer, whom they may have never met before, are delighted not only by the meal that looks fresh and healthy, but by the thoughtfulness of someone who took the time to order a meal for them. They also enjoy the exchange with our upbeat and pleasant volunteers who are eager to help,” said Theresa Keresztes, a board member of Meals2Heal. “[Meals2Heal] gives family and friends an avenue to assist the patient, when they might not otherwise be able to. If they live to far away or have to be at work or deal with other family issues,” said Tosches.
The WCPP website recommends healthy options to order. From Captain Marden’s: Salmon & Arugula Salad and from Susu Cafe the Chef’s Daily Creation of Homemade Soups. The Local Harvest Salad is one of the recommended meals along with the Beet and Arugala Salad. “We use baby kale and there are 5 kinds of kale that go into this salad. Kale is really high in vitamin C,” said Chef Brian Bulzachelli, culinary director at The Local. “It’s great on fiber and potassium as well,” he said. “Two ounces of diced and roasted sweet potatoes are also added which are high in vitamin B.”
“The Local is very involved in the community and we thought that [the Meals2Heal program] would be a good idea to help the community,” said Cathy Caulfield, Director at The Local. “I think [Meals2Heal] is special because it’s geared towards helping people and also the meals get delivered by volunteers.” “Our volunteers are eager to help and are big hearted. They seem to know what is needed and then take the initiative to get it done. Some volunteers are also cancer survivors who have completely changed their diet and lifestyle and want to help others get through a tough time and others just want to help or become more involved in their community,” said Keresztes.
“The Wellesley Cancer Prevention Project’s mission is to care for our community by providing educational resources on cancer prevention and support,” said Theresa Keresztes. “This new service is a great fit with our mission and one where we can grow by working more closely with people undergoing cancer in our community. People can really make things a lot better by showing they care, even in small ways, and our new Meals2Heal service is a great way to do that.”
Theresa Keresztes is also part of God’s Love we Deliver, whose mission is to improve the health and well-being of men, women, and children living with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other serious illnesses by alleviating hunger and malnutrition.