Cooking for Healthy Hearts program launches in Canton

Cooking for Healthy Hearts
American Heart Association aims to tackle food insecurity

Northeast Ohio, May 6, 2022 — The American Heart Association, a global force for longer, healthier lives for all, has launched a new program in response to food insecurity in our community. Cooking for Healthy Hearts is an educational experience designed to teach the basics of good nutrition, how to prepare healthier meals with an everyday home appliance like a slow cooker, how to reduce sodium and sugar intake, and how to prepare meals on a budget from items found at the local food bank or at low cost from a local grocer.

The first Cooking for Healthy Hearts event was hosted at the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank’s Stark Campus on Tuesday, May 3rd, reaching more than sixty-five families in the Canton community, thanks to help from Access Health Stark’s group of community health workers. The program was made possible thanks to funding from the Huntington Foundation.

“Research shows that certain factors like obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol can greatly increase a person’s risk for heart disease and death from a cardiac event,” said Valerie Weber, Community Impact Director for the American Heart Association. “As an organization, the American Heart Association strongly believes that targeted nutritional interventions play an important role in both well- and sick- care, spanning the prevention and treatment spectrums. We know that from one zip code to the next, life expectancy can vastly differ. In fact, the average person born in Stark County, in the 44704 zip code, lives just 67.5 years. Why? Industry, commerce, and income inequality are large issues. Residents often lack access to affordable, healthy food, healthcare, and safe places to exercise. Cross Trump Avenue NE to the East and someone born in the 44705 zip code can expect to live 79.4 years. That’s an average of nearly 12 years longer. Income, access to more resources and better healthcare all impact this example of social determinants of health. That is why the American Heart Association is committed to supporting programs and policies that increase access to healthy food across the care continuum.”

During the Cooking for Healthy Hearts program, Nutritionist Marlene Toot taught the participants how to shop smart on a budget, read a nutrition label, cut out sugars in their diet, identify too much sodium in a recipe/meal, and what a serving size looks like. Toot’s presentation was followed by two live meal preparations by Chef Brandon Hartel from Buehler’s Fresh Foods. Each attendee went home with a slow cooker, a handful of heart healthy recipes, and resources to help guide them in making healthier choices in the kitchen.

“I’ve been invited to several cooking programs in the past, but this one was by far the most helpful for me,” said participant Joanne Hashman of Canton. “The Chef showed us how to cook the healthy recipes that were given, and then, we were able to taste the meal to see if it was something we liked or not. The ingredients used are easy to find at the food bank, and I came away with a lot of great tips to take into my own kitchen.”

For tips and recipes for a healthy heart and mind, visit


About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

For local media inquiries:
Jessica Smylie; Communications Director
717-891-8122; [email protected]