Spectrum Health Culinary Medicine Program Receives $500,000 Grant from Michigan Health Endowment Fund

November 20, 2018

Grand Rapids, Mich., Nov. 16, 2018 – Spectrum Health Culinary Medicine is one of 54 organizations to receive a share of $10 million from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund (Health Fund) and is honored to accept a $500,000 grant to provide education to underserved populations across the state of Michigan.

Spanning from Southeast Michigan to the corners of the Upper Peninsula, and including Michigan’s biggest cities as well as its rural communities, the awards are part of two Health Fund programs: Nutrition & Healthy Lifestyles, which focuses on projects that benefit children, and Community Health Impact, which supports local solutions to health challenges.

“This funding from the Health Fund is a real game changer for Spectrum Health’s culinary medicine program,” said Leanne Mauriello, PhD, a health psychologist and director of Behavioral Science and Lifestyle Management for Spectrum Health. “We are focused on pairing approachable culinary skills with the science of healthy diet patterns. We are bringing dietitians, physicians and chefs together to educate patients and our community about the powerful influence food has on health and disease.”

The Spectrum Health Culinary Medicine Program will use this funding to transform care delivery to underserved at-risk youth and their families, and expand the professional culinary medicine program to educate resident physicians and health care workers. The program is called Family Kitchen Rx and will reach up to 200 families on a referral basis from their physicians at the Spectrum Health Pediatric, Family Medicine and Healthy Weight clinics.  The program will pair hands-on culinary medicine education with virtual coaching from a Spectrum Health registered dietitian.

Michigan is the second-most agriculturally diverse state in the country, yet the state struggles with healthy nutrition; childhood obesity rates have more than tripled in the past 30 years, and

Michigan has one of the top ten highest rates of obesity at 32.5 percent. At the same time, the state’s food insecurity rate is above the national average, with more than 18 percent of children lacking consistent access to the healthy foods they need.

“Michigan has the right ingredients to help kids and families live healthy lives and thrive, and we’re thrilled to partner with Spectrum Health in bringing that goal to fruition,” explained Laurie Solotorow, senior program officer for the Nutrition & Healthy Lifestyles program. “We’re supporting Spectrum Health Culinary Medicine Program and hope this will impact food and health systems and thus have the potential to be transformative.”

In 2012, Tulane University School of Medicine launched the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine and has since been a leader in curriculum development and research in this growing field of medicine. They formed a national collaborative consisting of nearly 45 medical schools and academic health systems, including Spectrum Health.

“We all make countless dietary choices throughout our everyday lives that influence our health and well-being, disease progression, and health outcomes,” said Kristi Artz, MD, emergency physician, certified culinary medicine specialist through Tulane and medical director, Lifestyle Medicine for Spectrum Health.  “Culinary medicine is an interactive and patient-centered way in which we can partner with our community, meet them where they are in their dietary patterns, and educate and teach about appropriate and incremental changes that can support health.”

The Michigan Health Endowment Fund works to improve the health and wellness of Michigan residents and reduce the cost of healthcare, with a special focus on children and seniors.

More information about the Health Fund can be found at For more information on Spectrum Health’s Culinary Medicine program, upcoming classes and to access over 80 available recipes, visit

Spectrum Health, a not-for-profit, integrated health system, is committed to improving the health and wellness of our communities. We live our mission every day with 31,000 compassionate professionals, 4,200 medical staff experts, 3,200 committed volunteers and a health plan serving 1 million members. Our talented physicians and caregivers are privileged to offer a full continuum of care and wellness services to our communities through 14 hospitals, including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, 230 ambulatory sites and telehealth offerings. We pursue health care solutions for today and tomorrow that diversify our offerings. Locally-governed and based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, our health system provided $483 million in community benefit in fiscal year 2018. Thanks to the generosity of our communities, we received $30 million in philanthropy in the most recent fiscal year to support research, academics, innovation and clinical care. Spectrum Health has been recognized as one of the nation’s 15 Top Health Systems by Truven Health Analytics®, part of IBM Watson HealthTM.

Rick Jensen
Media Relations
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