Food Revolution Hero: Brent A. Marsteller

Food Revolution Hero: Brent A. Marsteller

Fri 30 Sep 2011

Story by Doug Sheils
 

Cabell Huntington Hospital President and CEO, Brent A. Marsteller

Two years ago, Cabell Huntington Hospital was thrust into a bright spotlight when Jamie Oliver and a large production crew from the ABC Television network came to Huntington, WV to produce the first season of “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.” Huntington was chosen because of its dubious distinction as being “the unhealthiest city in America,” as claimed in a widely distributed and highly flawed Associated Press story in 2008.


Regardless of the inaccuracies in that story, a great many people in Huntington, including Cabell Huntington Hospital President and CEO Brent A. Marsteller, were fully aware that Huntington and its surrounding communities had a serious problem with obesity and obesity-related disease. And they were already addressing those problems in a multitude of ways.

But when Jamie Oliver challenged Cabell Huntington Hospital (with cameras rolling) to support his Food Revolution by donating $100,000 to train all school cooks in Cabell County how to prepare nutritious school meals from scratch, using fresh, whole ingredients – and by donating $50,000 to continue the community cooking classes he started at “Jamie’s Kitchen” -- Marsteller immediately knew how he had to respond.

“We were delighted to be a part of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution,” said Marsteller. “When Jamie asked us to partner with him to fund Jamie’s Kitchen and to fund the training of all school cooks in Cabell County, we did our research, gave his request serious consideration and asked ourselves one simple question – what’s the right thing to do for our community? And it didn’t take us very long to determine that the right thing to do was to partner with Jamie Oliver and work with him to bring about needed change in the Huntington area.”

Since that initial partnership with Jamie Oliver, Marsteller and Cabell Huntington Hospital funded an additional two years of operations at the now re-named Huntington’s Kitchen at a cost of $100,000, and gave the hospital’s $10,000 prize money from receiving the 2010 National Hospital Charitable Services Award to the kitchen to develop the Huntington’s Kitchen Fresh Market, a program to make healthy produce more available and affordable in the community. All together, Marsteller has committed more than $260,000 to the Food Revolution over the past two years.

“We’re very happy to report that both the school lunch program and Huntington’s Kitchen are still doing extremely well,” said Marsteller. “Will these efforts improve the health of our community and reduce our region’s obesity problem? We think so, and we certainly hope so. Of course, we won’t really know for a few more years, but we do know one thing for certain – the problem wasn’t going to be fixed by doing nothing.”

Doing nothing has never been Brent Marsteller’s style. And because of his generosity and vision, a number of other communities and school systems in the region surrounding Huntington (and around the country!) are now making efforts to adopt similar programs and changes, using Huntington’s Food Revolution as a template.

About the author: Doug Sheils is the director of Marketing and PR at Cabell Huntington Hospital. With Doug’s help and support along with that of Brent and the others at CHH, the Huntington Food Revolution Kitchen has become a great success and is leading the way for other revolutions across the country.

Image: Doug presenting a check approved by Brent for the Cabell School Lunch training program.

Read more about Huntington’s Kitchen here:
Cabell Huntington Hospital Donates Another $50k!
Huntington Kitchen and The Fresh Market Program

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