The words “healthy competition” never rang so true. As part of Mercy’s commitment to improving the health of all Oklahomans, Mercy teamed up with the American Heart Association to present the state’s first Start Eating Healthy Day – an awareness event that promotes how important, fun and simple eating healthy is.
Wednesday, Nov. 2, at Francis Tuttle Technology Center, chefs from local hospitals competed in front of a live audience to prepare the most delicious healthy dish. What they created blew everyone away.
“Hospital food isn’t what it used to be,” said Di Smalley, president of Mercy in Oklahoma. “Today, we are excited to bring chefs together to raise awareness about the importance of eating right. We want to show Oklahomans that healthy meals can be delicious – and fun to prepare.”
Mercy Health Center Executive Chef Sabrina Wagner put icing on the cake when she won the overall competition, which was judged by three impartial celebrity judges: Ryan Parrot of restaurants Iguana Grill and Local, Kathi Yeager of 101.9 The Twister radio station, and The Oklahoman Food Editor Dave Cathey – also known as the Food Dude.
That same day, Mercy and American Heart Association volunteers visited 12 elementary schools to promote healthy eating and to recognize them for their healthy living initiatives. One of those schools was Ranchwood Elementary in Yukon, Okla.
Students at Ranchwood Elementary got a special surprise when representatives from Mercy and the American Heart Association visited to thank them for their commitment to healthy living. It’s not every day you hear children cheering for fruits and veggies, but an apple and a pat on the back sent the kiddos into a fruit-loving frenzy.
“Mercy is committed to improving the health of our children through education, encouragement and leading by example,” said Dr. Julia Reza, Mercy Canadian County pediatrician. “Today was a great opportunity to recognize these important efforts in creating a healthier Oklahoma, starting with our children.”
The students also enjoyed a visit from Oklahoma City RedHawks mascot, Ruby, and received stickers, healthy recipe cards and apples from Mercy.
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” said Reza. “We want to instill the importance of preventive care through healthy living in our state’s next generation. We hope we brought that message, along with a bit of fun today.”
Mercy provides nearly 400 Oklahoma schools with an online resource called HealthTeacher, an online healthy living curriculum that allows educators to incorporate the subjects of nutrition and exercise into lesson plans. HealthTeacher has identified Ranchwood Elementary as the Oklahoma school making the greatest use of this resource.