Nearly 60 Healthy Meal Kits Given Away at IGA

Collaborating to offer 58 meal kits - each capable of feeding five - to community members at no cost were Calais Regional Hospital and Bell’s IGA on Friday, January 12th. From left to right: Greg Williams and Kathy Bell of Bell’s IGA, Mona Van Wart, CRH Dietician, and Krista Collins, Director of the CRH Emergency Department. (Submitted photo)

By Lura Jackson


As part of the collaboration between Calais Regional Hospital [CRH] and Bell’s IGA to “Make Healthy Happen”, one meal at a time, nearly 60 meal kits including all the ingredients necessary to make turkey and sweet potato chili were given away at the store on January 12th. The meal kits, which were each enough for a family of five, were able to be presented to customers at no cost as a result of $800 in donations contributed by the community at the store throughout the month of December. 

“It’s gone really well,” said Krista Collins, Director of Emergency Services at CRH. Collins joined the hospital’s nutritionist, Mona Van Wart, at the IGA on Friday to hand out samples of the recipe. Half of the available meal kits and a large portion of the free samples were gone within 20 minutes of the event starting. “We’ve had some people come by that were really surprised at how good it tasted,” Van Wart added. An anonymous taste tester confirmed that the chili was “Pretty darn tasty!” 

This is the first time that the hospital has partnered with the IGA to offer healthy meals to local community members, but Van Wart anticipates that it won’t be the last. Plans are already in the works to make it a regular offering as a way to provide outreach about how healthy meals can be purchased within a budget.

The meal kit included turkey, kale, an onion, sweet potato, brown rice, garlic, diced tomatoes and green chilis, tomato sauce, chunky mixed fruit lite with no added sugar, and seasonings necessary to complete the chili meal. According to a fact sheet provided with the meal kit, each serving amounted to 245 calories, 58 grams of carbohydrates, 29 grams of protein, 14 grams of fat, and the equivalent of ¼ tsp of salt if prepared as recommended on the provided recipe sheet. The cost per serving of the chili is approximately $1.75 per person.

Also included in the kit was a packet of information. One sheet provided customers with tips for planning to eat healthy on a budget, including opting away from processed foods, shopping with a calculator and adding up the cost as you go, and purchasing frozen fruits and vegetables. Another sheet advised on the benefits of kale and how to prepare it, and another sheet gave guidelines on how to eat meals that are within the federal MyPlate recommendations for a healthy diet.