A Veggies for Health class attendee mixes a custom spice blend. Attendees choose a spice recipe to mix up and take home to enhance their healthy meals.

Before joining Veggies for Health, Endeavor Health Swedish Hospital doctors told Betty Pore she needed to lose 100 pounds or she could be at risk for serious health issues.

Pore took action, turning to the hospital’s medical fitness Galter Life Center, where a staffer encouraged her to sign up for Swedish Hospital’s nutrition program. Two years later, Pore is still involved with Veggies for Health. Not only did she learn lifelong food skills and lose weight, Pore was also inspired to explore a career in healthcare.

Started in 2021, Veggies for Health is an eight-week nutrition course open to all community members, including people experiencing food insecurity and nutrition-related diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease or kidney disease.

The program is led by dietitian AK Kritt, community nutrition coordinator for Swedish Hospital. The classes meet weekly for lessons on healthy eating, and attendees receive a bag of fresh produce to take home each week.

AK at the farm

Swedish Hospital dietitian AK Kritt stands next to The Farm at Swedish Hospital, which includes veggies and herbs that are free to the community and tended to by volunteers and the Nutrition Department.

Pore’s experience with Kritt at Veggies for Health has helped her find her way to better health and a career home at Swedish. A long-time patient, she currently works as a technician and hopes to advance into management one day. She credits the hospital’s caring community with inspiring her to work there and help others.

Serving up food smarts at Veggies for Health

Veggies for Health’s program lead Kritt said she works hard to create an engaging, fun environment in her classes. In one especially memorable class, the attendees made smoothies using bicycle-powered blenders.

Students receive so much more than healthy eating and fitness tips, said Kritt. “I've had folks come to me and need mental health resources. I'm able to connect them because of the resources that we have here at Swedish as well as throughout the community at local social service partner organizations.”

After Veggies for Health participants finish the initial coursework, Kritt invites participants back for monthly Veggies for Health meet up classes that bring in speakers and community partners to talk about other wellness resources.

Veggie health class attendees

Veggies for Health class attendees gather outside with vegetables.

Veggies for Health offers a holistic approach to nutrition, recognizing the need to connect at-risk individuals with everything they need to sustain their new lifestyles. Pore recalls one favorite class where the day’s topic was wellness and housing, and Kritt brought in a representative from Habitat for Humanity to speak with them.

“I was connecting because it’s not only nutrition. Health and mental health all ties together with housing and having a safe place to live,” Pore said.

One of the course’s final classes is a field trip to The Friendship Center, a nearby food pantry, to show attendants where they can continue to receive quality produce after their time in the program ends.

“It normalizes the use of the pantry,” Kritt said. “There might be a mixture of patients who can use it, people know people who can use it or people who are interested in volunteering and helping out at the pantry.”

Veggies for Health brings to life the power of community-connected healthcare at Endeavor Health. Programs like Veggies for Health often lead to more than changing your diet, said Kritt. Sometimes they lead to helping find your dream job and life’s purpose.

“I've gained so much from Swedish, and it's so much a part of my life,” said Pore. “I feel a part of a little family.”

Learn more about Veggies for Health.