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updated: 8/17/2014 5:41 PM

Midwest Shelter uses grant to start nutrition program for veterans

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By Dru Bergman
Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans

The Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans has received a $4,600 Community Benefit Grant from Cadence Health to launch a veterans nutrition program.

"The goal of the nutrition program is to help MSHV's veteran clients develop healthy dietary habits that address specific medical needs and improve their overall wellness," Executive Director Pamela Kostecki said. "Better health, in turn, will help them to achieve other self-sufficiency goals, such as attaining and retaining employment."

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The homeless veterans the organization serves come to the agency with multiple issues such as post-traumatic stress, substance abuse, mental illness and extreme poverty, all of which affect their physical health.

"When they first engage with MSHV, they are in basic survival mode," Kostecki said. "The agency's immediate goal is to get them off the streets and into safe, decent housing."

Once their living situations are stable, the shelter works with the veterans to address the root causes of their homelessness, including improving their habits and life choices. Through direct client observation and experience, shelter officials have identified the need for nutrition education as a key component of this effort.

"We are incredibly grateful to Cadence Health for their support of this program," Kostecki said.

The shelter will use the grant funds to contract with a registered dietitian to plan meals, to conduct individual nutrition evaluations and to help the veterans work toward specific wellness goals, such as reducing cholesterol levels and improving chronic health conditions.

The Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans is a nonprofit agency based in Wheaton that provides transitional and affordable housing, a comprehensive array of supportive services and community outreach to help homeless and at-risk veterans and their families achieve self-sufficiency.

Founded by veterans in 2007, the Midwest Shelter operates on a vision of no veteran left behind due to homelessness, joblessness, poverty and/or mental-health issues. People interested in making a donation, volunteering or learning more about the Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans can visit helpaveteran.org or call (630) 871-8387.

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