BLOOMINGTON — Catherine Albert Fleming loved to host people and cook for them, especially those who otherwise would have been alone.
"My parents (the late Catherine Albert Fleming and Richard Albert of Normal) were very warm and welcoming people," said their daughter, Kris Burke of Bloomington. "My mother loved to throw a party and loved to cook, and she always was worried about people not having a holiday with someone else. So our holidays always included other people being invited."
Albert Fleming's love of food and fellowship will continue through an OSF HealthCare program to provide healthy ingredients, recipes, nutritional information and grocery shopping lists to anyone. The program is possible thanks to Burke's $10,000 gift in her parents' memory.
SmartMeals: Sharing Christ's Love through Food begins Monday at OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center's Center for Healthy Lifestyles (CHL) in Bloomington and will be expanded later this year to a site in Livingston County associated with OSF HealthCare Saint James-John W. Albrecht Medical Center in Pontiac.
SmartMeals will allow anyone, beginning Monday, to go to CHL once a month from 7 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday. A former CHL storage closet has been converted to the SmartMeals Room.
Each month, people may pick up, without charge, ingredients for an easy, healthy, four-serving meal as well as a recipe card, an explanation of nutritional benefits and a shopping list for that meal so they can buy it later on their own, CHL Manager Erin Kennedy explained Tuesday. Ingredients for each meal will cost $7 or less, she said.
Shoppers also will be given a healthy eating tips sheet.
For example, the meal for January is a southwest chicken dish, and the ingredients are two cans of diced tomatoes with green chilies, one can of no-salt-added corn, one can of black beans and one can of white chicken. The meal for February will be an Italian seasoned chicken or tuna and noodle skillet, and the ingredients are two cans of Italian seasoned, no-salt-added diced tomatoes; one can of white chicken or tuna; one can of green beans and three cups of whole-grain pasta.
Healthy eating tips sheets include "Eating better on a budget" and "20 Ways to Enjoy More Fruits and Vegetables."
Community health needs assessments in McLean and Livingston counties have identified lack of access to healthy foods as a need in some areas, said Kennedy and Nancy Kuster, manager of cardiopulmonary services for OSF HealthCare's Eastern Region.
"It's about buying affordable, healthy foods and empowering people to prepare healthy meals to improve their health and well-being," Kennedy said.
The result would be reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and other disease, Kuster said.
Albert Fleming, who died in 2016, had been a secretary to St. Joseph medical center administrators, said Burke, a St. Joseph volunteer.
"I think this is amazing," Burke said with tears in her eyes. "I think my mother would be very pleased."