HHSI Recieves Grant from American Heart Association



CONTACT: Allison Slattery, 413-348-1829




Harbor Health Services Receives Grant from American Heart Association to Fund Program Dedicated to Fighting Childhood Obesity

DORCHESTER, MA – Local non-profit, Harbor Health Services, was recently awarded a $7,500 grant by the American Heart Association to help fund their Building Blocks of Health program which will lead students through an evidence-based nutrition and physical activity curriculum created by the Michigan Model for Health.


The Building Blocks of Health program has prevention staff members that will teach students information on topics including healthy eating, exercise, dietary guidelines and nutritional content of food. In addition, students are encouraged to act as change agents in their community requiring participants to spread and share what they have learned with peers, families and members of their social network.

“At Harbor, we believe that it is crucial to identify the root causes of health disparities, addressing these social determinants to create sustainable change in the lives of those we serve,” said Ryan Ribeiro, Program Director at Harbor Health Services. “With our program, we hope to not only impact the youth participants, but the greater community as a whole, thereby creating sustainable change within Dorchester.”

Among children today, obesity is causing a broad range of health problems that previously weren’t seen until adulthood. If current trends continue, today’s kids could be the first generation to live shorter lives than their parents. Parents and caregivers are essential decision makers when it comes to the nutrition, physical activity and health needs of children. This group of both new and continuing partners will provide invaluable resources and education to the communities most in need in the fight against childhood obesity.

“Harbor Health Services shares a mutual passion with the American Heart Association in building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke, and in particular, a dedication to combating childhood obesity and improving family health,” said Penny McGuire, Director of Community Health for the American Heart Association. “This funding will help provide Harbor Health Services with the opportunities to ensure meaningful activities continue and that new, creative projects are developed in the Dorchester community.”

The Greater Boston Division of the American Heart Association has recognized the need to support community-based activities that address our mission to build healthier lives and fight heart disease and stroke. This year’s Community Impact Grants program is made possible through a sponsorship by Santander Bank, N.A., whose funding is helping to ensure that these activities continue and that new, creative projects and partnerships are developed. For more information regarding the Community Impact Grant program, please go to www.heart.org/BostonCIG.


About the American Heart Association

Founded in 1924, we’re the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary health organization dedicated to building healthier lives, free of heart disease and stroke. To help prevent, treat and defeat these diseases – America’s No. 1 and No. 3 killers – we fund cutting-edge research, conduct lifesaving public and professional educational programs, and advocate to protect public health. To learn more or join us in helping all Americans, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or visit www.heart.org.




Summer Food Swaps

By: Jacqueline Minichiello, MS, RD, LDN
Clinical Nutritionist/WIC Nutritionist
Harbor Health Services, Inc.


Summer is a great time to be outside and share a meal with family and friends! However, food options at a typical BBQ can skimp on the nutrition!

Here are some tasty suggestions to try to maintain your healthy eating pattern during the summer months!


Serve Kale Chips instead of Potato Chips


Kale is in the same family as cabbage and broccoli. It is pack with nutrients such as Vitamin K and calcium, and has other nutrients which help prevent cancer. Kales chips are a wonderful crunchy alternative to regular potato chips. There are different types of kale, so see which you like best for the recipe. Enjoy!


Superb Kale Chips!


1 large bunch kale, tough stems removed, leaves torn into pieces (about 16 cups)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

¼ teaspoon salt (optional – see below for other flavor ideas)



  1. Preheat oven to 400◦F
  2. Dry Kale very thoroughly. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle the kale with oil. Mix well. Fill 2 or more large rimmed baking sheets with a layer of kale, making sure the leaves don’t overlap.
  3. Bake until most leaves are crisp, switching the pans back to front and top to bottom halfway through. Cook for 8 to 12 minutes total.


Spice it up! Want an extra punch to your chips? Add spices such as cayenne pepper, curry powder, or cinnamon!


Grill up Portobello Mushrooms instead of Burgers

Mushrooms are filled with Unami taste, which is rich, brothy, meaty and satisfying! Both the shape and taste make it a natural swap for a hamburger. Grill these just like you would burgers. Make some delicious toppings like sautéed spinach or caramelized onions and then lay them down on a hearty whole-wheat bun. Pile high with lettuce and tomato and viola, you have your grilled masterpiece! Also try marinating the mushrooms beforehand to give them some extra flavor.

ice cream


Try Banana Soft Serve instead of Ice-cream

Frozen bananas are a delicious, satisfying treat to enjoy as ice-cream. Serving this dish helps to get some extra fruit into everyone’s diet!



4 large frozen bananas

3-4 tablespoons milk (any type will work)

1 cup (or more) strawberries cut into large chunks



  1. Process bananas and milk in a food processor until smooth.
  2. Add strawberries to mix. Pulse about 4-5 times, more or less depending how smooth you want the strawberries.
  3. Place mixture in Popsicle molds and freeze.


Want some nutty flavor? Swirl in 2-3 tablespoons peanut or almond butter! Add the peanut butter before the strawberries to mix it in.

Give your drinks a twist!



Fruity cocktails are synonymous with summer. Use these tips to help lighten up the summer drinks.

  1. Try using seltzer instead of tonics or soda.
  2. Muddle mint and berries into drinks instead of adding juice.
  3. Use fresh lime and lemon instead of sugary margarita mixes.


Here is a tasty, but light version of the Pina Colada!


Pina Colada


2 oz. coconut rum

3 oz. coconut water

2 oz. pineapple juice


  1. Add ice and all three ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Shake.
  2. Add ice to a tall class, pour mixture into class.
  3. Serve with a piece of sliced pineapple on the rim.




What Ails Us: Some New/Old Thinking

          Most people love to talk about their vacations, especially if the vacation was a good one (if all your vacations have been good ones, consider yourself blessed). Not having thought much about a topic for today (I was on vacation!), the morning paper on the day we returned came to the rescue, in a way that brought the week into perspective with themes familiar to this space: obesity and inactivity, promoting healthy lifestyle changes that endure, medicine’s creative attempts to motivate positive behaviors. The modality reported on was a familiar one, that of prescription – Rx power! Not for medications, or even gym time – those would not be newsworthy – but the new and notable angle is that pediatricians are prescribing Outside Time, for children who are at risk, and please leave your electronic devices in the house.

        As a kid, my mom was always telling me to go play outside, but as we all know, times have changed. And the emphasis is not just on outside, but “outside in nature”, or “outside in the sunshine”, or most importantly “outside coming up with something on your own, even if it’s just looking around and being curious about what’s out there, so long as you’re active.” And the “evidence-based” benefits already recognized? Lower blood pressure, reduction in reported stress, and success with some in actually losing weight. But the general improvement in well-being is where the real gold lies, here.

       I present my vacation as evidence. My wife and I spent the past week on a Massachusetts Audubon trip. It was ostensibly about finding birds, but the transcendent part lay in just being outside as much as humanly possible, walking, sometimes clambering, and looking. Like a whole lot. Like from 5am most days until the sun set, and a little after that. Our group numbered 17, and while the energy and enthusiasm waned at times (we also tended to eat on the run), the general level of passion and joy was pretty constant. Here’s the kicker: most of the group was over 50, many well past that. Our leader, the most energetic of all, turns 70 tomorrow.

       None of us ever got a prescription for doing this type of thing, I am sure, but if that’s what it takes nowadays, it seems like a pretty good idea.

John Dabrowski, LICSW
Neponset Health Center & Geiger Gibson Community Health Center
Harbor Health Services, Inc.