The Bassuk Center

OrganWise Families

Healthy eating & exercise for children in shelters

Families experiencing homelessness face significant barriers to healthy eating and exercise. These include food insecurity, limited access to cooking options, restrictive shelter policies, and lack of open space for play and exercise.

Diet and exercise have a profound impact on physical and mental health. Helping families focus on healthy eating and physical activity can improve overall wellness and reduce health disparities.

OrganWise Families was developed by the Bassuk Center to promote healthy eating and exercise for families with 3 to 5-year-old children who are living in shelters. This program is an adaptation of OrganWise Guys, an evidence-based program shown effective in preventing unhealthy weight gain in 3 to 5-year-old children.

Picture courtesy of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation

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OrganWise Families offers interactive sessions in which parents and children explore topics of healthy eating and daily exercise. Topics include healthy eating on a budget, organizing family meals, making time for daily exercise, and the importance of eating a variety of fruits and vegetables.

The Bassuk Center is partnering with family shelters to teach OrganWise Families to children and their parents, and evaluate the impact on a variety of health outcomes. We are also collecting qualitative data to better understand how shelter environments and policies influence families’ access to healthy food and exercise.