On Wednesday, September 27, Hackensack Meridian Health celebrated the grand re-opening of a teaching kitchen located within the Meridian Fitness & Wellness Center in Hazlet, N.J. with a ribbon cutting ceremony and cooking demonstration. As part of the festivities, Laura Garrett, RD prepared two easy and healthy dishes, leading nearly 40 community members through the process and allowing them to sample the fresh, vibrant flavors of Broccoli Slaw and Pantry Manhattan Clam Chowder.

“With dramatic increases in obesity and diabetes, the search is on for innovative strategies to change the paths of those living with, or at risk for developing these and other lifestyle-related chronic diseases. The teaching kitchen is important because it helps community members explore the relationship between food and nutrition.” says Kelli O’Brien, RD, MBA, chief operating officer at Riverview Medical Center. “Offering cooking demonstrations is a way to positively impact the food choices people make and promote healthy behaviors at home and in the community.”

As part of a 3-month renovation project, the teaching kitchen was enhanced with a new range and vent hood, a double oven, new refrigerator, and sleek new cabinetry and counter tops. While cooking demonstrations will continue to play an important role in the teaching kitchen space, the room also provides space for community lectures and screenings to take place throughout the year.

Hackensack Meridian Health offers an abundance of free and low cost educational programs, health screening events, and support groups to keep people informed about their health and wellness, better manage their chronic conditions and to promote healthy behaviors. The demonstration at the new teaching kitchen is just one of many that will take place from Bergen County to Ocean County as Hackensack Meridian Health embarks on a new healthy cooking and nutrition program to be unveiled in the coming months.

“Hackensack Meridian Health is expanding care beyond the hospital and into communities,” says Regina Foley, RN, MBA, MSN, FACHE, chief operating officer at Bayshore Medical Center. “It’s all part of our mission that enhances the engagement between hospitals, physicians and most importantly, patients.”

For more information about classes, support groups or events offered at Hackensack Meridian Health facilities, please call 800-560-9990 or visit hackensackmeridianhealth.org.

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