Paths to Nutrition Program Update (Summer 2019)

Did you know BEAM has a full-time registered dietitian on staff ?
Fully funded by the USDA, BEAM’s Paths to Wellness Program is designed to help low income residents make important dietary changes that will lead to healthier lives. Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Rachel McCandless, MSH,RDN works with clients one-on-one and also educates the public about nutrition through various community outreach initiatives.

Here’s what she has been up to lately:

• In partnership with the City of Atlantic Beach and Dig Local Network, Rachel is teaching 40 children once a week about healthy foods through a kid’s summer camp running through mid-August at the Gail Baker Community Center in Atlantic Beach.

• Rachel also regularly participates in the Atlantic Beach Mid-Week Farmers’ Market at Bull Park on Wednesdays from 3 - 6 pm. Dig Local Network provides 2-for-1 SNAP benefits (also known as food stamps) for people who spend the vouchers on produce. Rachel has recently begun a SNAP food basket demo highlighting local vendor products and ways to maximize the 2-for-1 incentive benefit, recipe cards included.

• BEAM’s registered dietitian nutritionist attends the Beaches Green Market in Neptune Beach on Saturdays from 2 – 5 pm. Choosing items from vendors such as Alvarez Farms, Rachel creates a dish on-the-spot and offers a complimentary food tasting to attendees.

• In addition, Rachel recently launched a Neighbors for Nutrition program twice a month in which her successful medical clients “shop” with new clients to serve as nutrition ambassadors. This allows them to apply what they have learned from their one-on-one sessions and provide intentional support for other clients.

This year alone, the Paths to Wellness Program will educate more than 2,000 people about nutrition through local community outreach events.

Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month

A message from BEAM's registered dietitian during Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month:

Contrary to marketing and media reports, there is no “miracle” food or supplement that will prevent or treat Alzheimer’s disease and dementia as we get older.
The one thing that HAS been shown to help prevent cognitive decline is a varied diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables along with fish and seafood while limiting excess sugars and solid fats like those found in red meat.

The antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids from these foods are shown to have a protective effect on the brain, while excess sugars and saturated fats contribute to the blood vessel damage that leads to brain issues as we age.

And don’t forget the exercise. The latest science on physical activity and the brain points to the fact that exercise not only keeps the brain from declining but actually helps to grow new connections in the brain, improving our cognitive function.…/research_progress/prevention

If you are the caregiver for someone who is experiencing Alzheimer’s or cognitive decline, you know that eating may become a challenge due to poor appetite, medications, altered senses of taste and smell, difficulty using utensils, mood changes and difficulty chewing or swallowing, among other issues.
People living with dementia do not need a special diet, but well-balanced meals that contribute to overall health are extremely important. For tips on how to choose foods and how to increase acceptance and appetite for these foods, see:…/caregiving/daily-care/food-eating…/9597-eating-and-nutritiona…

Paths to Wellness Nutrition Program (2018 Update)

2018 was the first full year of implementation of BEAM’s United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Community Food Project grant awarded back in 2017. This federal grant fully funds our Paths to Wellness program, which focuses in three main areas: prescriptive guidance, preventative education and direct community wellness outreach.

Successes from the last year include:

  • More than 250 hours of direct one-on-one counseling completed for patients who were referred to BEAM from Baptist Beaches and Beaches Sulzbacher Center for the treatment of diabetes

  • More than 25,000 pounds of food, or 20,833 meals, were distributed each month (including produce, pantry staples, quality proteins and whole grains) from our Jax Beach and Mayport food pantries

  • 168 pantry visits occurred in which a client at risk of diabetes or hypertension shopped for food and received advice from a nutrition specialist or registered dietitian

  • More than 200 cooking demonstrations were conducted

New Year’s Resolutions



From the Dietitian:

It’s January again, where did the time go?  After all of the excesses of the holidays, a new calendar is like a clean slate, a “do-over” to fix our previous mistakes.  About half of us make New Year’s resolutions; we want to lose weight, quit smoking, spend less or get fit or organized in the new year.  One thing these goals have in common is that they are all related to our habits, the small actions we repeatedly do or don’t do that add up over time.  For example, one can of soda is only 150 calories, you probably don’t even think about it.  But, one soda every day can add up to an extra 15 pounds of body fat at the end of the year. 

Changing your habits seems easy on January 1st, but by February or March, not so much.  Life gets in the way and we abandon our goals for our old familiar patterns.  It doesn’t have to be that way, however.  With a little patience and planning, you can be your own success story.

Here are six tips to help you to succeed with whatever your New Year’s resolution:

  1. Make a specific plan for the journey, not just the destination. How can you get to where you want to go if you don’t have a map of how to get there?  “I’m going to go to the gym 4 hours every week” is a lot easier to achieve than “I’m going to get fit”.
  2. Relying on willpower alone doesn’t work; stress or bad days will happen and you’ll be tempted to resume your comforting old habits.  Keep a list of actions that you enjoy doing to replace the one you used to perform automatically.  For example, when your boss stresses you out, walk around the building or call a friend rather than go out for a cigarette or to the break room for a donut.
  3. Don’t try to do everything at once.  Break it down into small, achievable chunks to keep from getting discouraged.  “I’m going to clean and organize everything” seems overwhelming compared to “This week, I’m going to clean out the bedroom closet”.
  4. Trying to be perfect 100% of the time is one of the main reasons we abandon our goals come February.  Instead, try the 80/20 approach.  If you’ve made good choices 80% of the time, pat yourself on the back, then work to gradually increase to 90%, then more.   Knowing you have a treat planned for a bedtime snack can help you to avoid the cake on the buffet line at lunch.
  5. Keep your motivation going by making a list of why you are changing your habits.  “I want to eat healthier so that my daughter won’t learn bad habits and have to struggle with her weight like I have.”  “I want to save money so that I can travel in the future.”  Keep this list handy to remind yourself often.
  6. Keep track of your small victories and reward yourself regularly.  Small rewards can have great effects: a hot bath after going to the gym, a pedicure for 5 pounds lost, or a new video game for not smoking for two weeks.  You’ll look forward to the prize when tempted to backslide.  Just remember, you only get the reward for doing the action!  If you don’t do it, you don’t get it!

Quotable Quotes

"Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time."  ~Mark Twain

We hope that these tips will take you a long way in your journey to become your own “after” picture and ditch the “before” picture for good.

Here’s to your success!

Introducing Mayport Market

More than 40% of children who attend Mayport Elementary receive free or reduced lunch, which is also located in a USDA defined food desert, a neighborhood that lacks healthy and affordable food sources. With the goal of helping to alleviate food insecurity for low income children in a vulnerable community, we forged a new partnership with Publix Super Market Charities, Palms Presbyterian Church and Mayport Elementary School/Duval County Public Schools to create an innovative mobile food pantry called Mayport Market. Each Duval County early release day, Mayport Market is open to any family of current students. Nearly twice a month, these children and families are provided with fresh produce from BEAM’s Grace Garden and pantry staples from our grocery recovery program coupled with nutrition education led by BEAM’s full time Registered Dietitian. Publix Super Market Charities has generously donated to this pilot program to improve the long-term health of low-income children, and our partners at Palms Presbyterian volunteer their time to help with set-up and distribution.

Our first market day was very successful as we had more than 250 families attend and distributed more than 1,800 pounds of groceries. Our Registered Dietitian Rachel McCandless made Helushi, a Polish cabbage and noodle dish, to entice the kids to try the cabbage, which was a surplus vegetable received from Feeding Northeast Florida that week.  Similar food tastings and recipe cards will be provided at each market.

Rachel’s future nutrition lessons will include ways to “eat the rainbow” (i.e. fruits and vegetables), the nutritional cost of drinking sodas and juices and how to engage picky eaters to try new foods.

In addition, we’d like to acknowledge Principal Amy Cline for her ongoing support and for giving us the opportunity to provide food assistance to children who often go without adequate nutrition.