Tag Archives: partners

Farm-to-Table Dining

Long View: Fresh from the Farm and Close to Home

The concept of farm-to-table eating intrigues me. I’ve noticed the term showing up in the local, independent restaurants in Iowa and Nebraska.

Farm-to-table means the food comes directly from the farm to your local restaurant, without first going through a store, market, or distributor.

A well-loved farm-to-table restaurant in Omaha has 19 different local, independent farms as partners. Its mushrooms come from Grand Island, its walnuts from Valparaiso, its poultry from Burchard, and even its vinegar is locally produced in Cody, NE, which has a population of just 156 people. Another restaurant in Des Moines claims that 90% of its ingredients come from local farms. Even the house liquors are Iowans’.

None of this is new, really. When I visit our home office in Urbana, I like to eat lunch nearby at Common Ground Food Co-operative, which has been in business since 1974. Its website can show you a map of where your groceries came from in Illinois. The furthest any of the apples have traveled is right around 200 miles, from freshly picked trees in Murphysboro.

But does eating locally really make a difference? Science tells us that fruits and veggies begin to lose nutrients once they are picked. If they’ve been sitting in a crate on the back of a truck or in a grocery store very long, you’ll miss out on the fruit’s or veggie’s full flavor and nutrition.

And when you choose a farm-to-table restaurant, you’ll know that a lot of your hard-earned money is staying in your community. The American Independent Business Alliance found that on average, 48% of each purchase at local small businesses went back into their communities. That’s more than 3 times the amount at chain stores.

The next time you sit down at your favorite local restaurant, go ahead and introduce yourself. Find out where those delicious ingredients came from. You might be surprised how close to home their journey started.

Lora Felger is a community and broker liaison at Health Alliance. She is the mother of 2 terrific boys, a world traveler, and a major Iowa State Cyclones fan.

Blaze a Trail as You Age

Vantage Point: Blaze a Trail

An excerpt from North Central Washington Museum’s “The History of a Thriving Anomaly” describes how the local community thought the Wenatchee Valley Clinic, which opened on April Fools’ Day 1940, wouldn’t last 6 months. They couldn’t have been more wrong.

The tiny clinic was founded by a surgeon, Albert Donald Haug, a radiologist, Lloyd Smith, and an internist with a knack for keeping patients happy, Lumir Martin Mares, and it brought together specialists at a time when most doctors worked alone.

Haug and Mares believed that their little clinic could meet the same standards as those in the East, and they brought together a range of specialists and cutting-edge equipment and training to become the second-largest clinic in the region.

“We knew it would grow,” Dr. Smith said, “but none of us had any idea it would grow to what it is now.”

The clinic brought together its doctors then, and it brings together patients and doctors now. Because of their dream, its nearly 170 doctors treat people from around the world today.

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy decided that every May, we would honor older Americans and their contributions to our communities and country. This year’s theme, “Blaze a Trail,” celebrates older adults who are taking charge of their health, engaging in their communities, and positively impacting the lives of others, just like Wenatchee Valley Clinic’s remarkable founders.

Health Alliance will honor older Americans this month by partnering with Confluence Health to hold an educational event about the treatment and prevention of hypertension and strokes on May 25 and by teaming up with community agencies and businesses in planning the 3rd annual senior-focused health fair at Pybus Public Market on June 4.

Health insurance can be challenging, but as I think about those trailblazing doctors, I remember that hard work, progressive thinking, and the camaraderie of partners like you can help turn the dream of making a positive impact through quality care within this wonderful place we all live a reality.

Shannon Sims is a Medicare community liaison for Health Alliance, serving Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties in Washington. She has four sons and two grandsons. During her time off, she performs as part of a rodeo drill team on her horse, Skeeter.

Washington Wildfire Season

Vantage Point: Service in Times of Crisis

As I stopped for gas in Cle Elum on my way to Seattle, the store clerk asked me, “How’s the smoke outside?”

“I’m from Wenatchee,” I said.

“So sorry,” she genuinely replied.

The word “sorry,” I have expressed it too many times during this summer’s devastating wildfire season. Everyone at Health Alliance has felt helpless, halfheartedly going about their day-to-day duties, distracted by worry for our friends and neighbors suffering to the north.

One person who’s not feeling helpless is Cindy Marshall, a registered nurse and Health Alliance’s utilization review coordinator. She took the time to become a Red Cross disaster nurse volunteer to help in these kinds of emergencies.

She told me the recent fire crisis has been extremely unique and challenging because the volatile, unpredictable winds keep shifting the fire danger, affecting many towns and causing new evacuation orders.

And it can be hard to help in these conditions. The Greater Inland Northwest Chapter of the American Red Cross has 11 stations spread over a large area right now, and many times they have set up a station, only to have to tear it down to move it to safety when the winds change.

Red Cross stations serve as a hub of activity during an emergency, but Cindy described entering a station to volunteer as anything but chaos. She knows exactly where to check in and which duties are most important. The station lead does a tremendous job of organizing priorities and reporting changes, and the team is experienced in troubleshooting solutions to issues as they arise.

Cindy is perfect for this role, as it’s much the same as what she does for Health Alliance. When one of our members has a healthcare emergency, Cindy is also there for them.

But the thing that makes Cindy truly exceptional, what keeps her volunteering weekends and evenings for the Red Cross and successful in her role at Health Alliance, is her caring and humble heart.

“So many people are doing so much more than me,” she said, crediting the firefighters who are putting their lives on the line and breathing in the heavy smoke.

To our members, community partners, and providers affected, please know that the word isn’t enough. We are more than sorry. We empathize with you through this crisis, and we will be here to support you in recovery.

Cindy expressed it best. “My number one priority is taking care of a person’s immediate safety and health care, but afterwards, sometimes the only thing you can do is hug them and let them cry.”

Shannon Sims is a Medicare community liaison for Health Alliance, serving Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties in Washington. She has four adult sons and two grandsons. During her time off, she performs as part of a rodeo drill team on her horse, Skeeter.