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$50,000 boost for nutrition programs at St. John's Health

Healthy Lunch St. John’s Hospital Foundation recently received a $50,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation to fund healthy eating programs offered by St. John’s Medical Center. St. John’s was selected because of the Walmart Foundation’s interest in community programs that improve nutrition.

“Community wellness is part of the mission of St. John’s Medical Center. We now offer many nutrition education programs for the general public and provide more options for healthy eating at the hospital for our patients, visitors and staff,” noted wellness director Julia Heemstra. “It’s gratifying to be recognized for the quality and impact of these programs.”

New programs include:
• A variety of nutrition programs, support groups, and wellness coaching with St. John’s registered dietitian Tenley Burlingame.
• Registered dietitian and diabetes educator Sarah Peterson offers outpatient nutrition counseling, facilitates the weight management support group, and leads the 16-week Diabetes Prevention Program
• Meals with a Mission, launched in 2016, prepares and delivers healthy meals to oncology patients and their caregivers

St. John’s will continue to advance existing nutrition-focused initiatives, including: the free, interactive educational programs Lunchtime Learning, Dinner with a Doc, and Words on Wellness; the Worksite Wellness program; and various support groups. Ongoing programs reach thousands annually and include 1,300+ Teton County Worksite Wellness participants. In addition, nutritional information is provided on patient room-service menus and at Choices Café, the hospital’s cafeteria, which serves over 7,500 meals/month.

Already, St. John’s programs are making a difference. Choices Café has decreased large soda cups from 22 ounces to 16 ounces, helping reduce soda consumption by 12%. Proceeds from sales of soda (a less healthy option) are used to subsidize the price of the salad bar, making prices for fresh produce even more affordable. Choices Café also offers antibiotic-free beef, nitrate-free turkey and ham, hormone-free milk, and produce from Vertical Harvest.

“We’ve found that small changes in price and serving size impact buying behavior and lead to healthier choices,” said Heemstra. “Recently, we were amazed to see that salad bar selections comprised more than 85% of lunches sold.”

Salad bar ingredients are all locally sourced when possible and made from scratch daily. The addition of reusable salad bowls has resulted in both an uptick in healthy eating and a significant decrease in waste. Within the first month of introducing the salad bowls, the Hospital saved over 800 disposable salad bowls from the landfill.

According to Heemstra, “The changes we’ve made have helped our employees, our patients, and our visitors—and are part of the reason that Choices Café was named Best Ninja Salad Bar in 2015!”


Media contacts: Karen Connelly, Communications Officer, 307.739.7380,
Jennifer Simon, St. John’s Hospital Foundation, 307 739 7529,

St. John's Medical Center in Jackson, Wyoming, offers patient-centered clinical excellence and community wellness services through a full-service hospital, primary care, and specialty physician practices, and a long-term care Living Center.

The mission of the St. John’s Hospital Foundation is to secure philanthropic support to advance the mission and strategic objectives of St. John’s Medical Center, including patient-centered care, clinical excellence, and community wellness. For more information, visit