Health Beat: Five People Making a Difference

When looking at health issues in Philadelphia, many people stand out as making a difference in the field. There are a plethora of people trying improve well-being through healthy eating establishments, wellness places, urban farms and meal clubs. They support change and encourage people to think differently about wellness.

1. Jan Shaeffer (above), president and CEO of St. Christopher’s Foundation for Children, helps residents in North Philadelphia through the Farm to Families Program. The program allows families to buy a medium or large box of food each week for $10 or $15. “That really is to address the issue of food access in North Philadelphia, where there’s not a lot of grocery stores,” Shaeffer said. “Bodegas have some access to fresh food. But some families are experiencing obesity … so we put this program together so they could pick up a box right from their neighborhood of fresh food every week and change their behavior.”


Lindsey Kane talks with people about nutrition and healthy eating.
Lindsey Kane talked with people about nutrition and healthy eating.

2. Eating healthy is important, and Lindsey Kane is doing whatever she can to promote awareness. A healthy eating specialist and registered dietician at the Whole Foods Market on South Street, Kane organizes a variety of free or charitable events and programs to help customers. She also holds events like The Supper Club, in which Kane and her culinary team serve a gourmet meal. Throughout the course of the meal, Kane explains healthy tricks and benefits of the dishes served. She also guides weekly Wellness Walks – shopping tours that show customers how to shop healthy and save money.


Linda Samost supports healthy family practices.

3. Instead of ordering takeout on a lazy Sunday, Linda Samost has a better option. As executive director of Sunday Suppers Philly, Samost works to provide healthy dinners, access to local food, and education and support to low-income families. Sunday Suppers takes place every week and includes fresh ingredients like vegetables, lean proteins, fruits and water. The meals are served family-style and each family gets their own table. Samost said, “A lot of families that come in the first time can’t remember the last time they had a family meal.” At the end of each meal, Sunday Suppers provides a “to go” bag with recipes and ingredients for the meal they enjoyed. It serves as a model to encourage healthy family mealtime.


Robert Pierson is passionate about supporting local farmers.

4. Founder and director of Farm to City, Robert Pierson has a passion for helping the community by supporting local farmers. The organization has four programs. Farm to City opened the first Farmers Market in Philadelphia and now operates 18. Pierson has also set up the Winter Harvest Buying Club. This online store is supplied by 48 local farms and small food business with over 500 items collectively from November through April for delivery every week. Customers can pick up items at one of 18 locations. Pierson said Farm to City reaches a wide customer base. “It’s in the thousands, we’ve added up sales over $3 million in the past two years and in 13 years close to $20 million,” he said.


Ryan Kuck, Project Director at Greensgrow West located in West Philadelphia felt passionate about Greensgrow and their participation in the Philadelphia community.
Ryan Kuck, project director at Greensgrow West in West Philadelphia, felt passionate about the farm and its participation in the Philadelphia community.

5. Ryan Kuck is the project director at Greensgrow West, project director at West Philadelphia Fresh Food Hub and the founder/ executive director at Preston’s Paradise. Greensgrow West, located on Baltimore Avenue in West Philly, is a local and organic outdoor garden center that will offer plants, flowers and produce. As a part of the Greensgrow family, a nonprofit organization founded in 1997, Greensgrow West will feature a fully stocked garden center, a small farmer’s market, outdoor workshop and classroom space, and will serve as a pickup location for its community-supported agriculture (CSA) program. “Greensgrow farm has a mission of reinvigorating underused spaces primarily for food-related businesses, entrepreneurship activities and civic engagement around greening,” Kuck said.

– Text and images by Shayna Kleinberg and Kelsey Kondraski

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