Food and wellness are fundamentally linked, and that idea has been put into practice at the nonprofit Center for Discovery, a residential and educational facility for people of all ages with complex disabilities in Sullivan County, New York. The center treats healthy eating as a pillar of its programs, incorporating farming, nutrition, and cuisine in a “seed to belly” approach under its Department of Nourishment Arts. The Daily Meal paid a visit to the center to find out more.
Nutrition has often been neglected in facilities for people with disabilities, something the Center for Discovery has been working to change since at least the early 1980s.
“I have some very bad memories of going into the institutions,” the center’s CEO and president, Patrick Dollard, told us. “I still have the olfactory remembrance of the stench of the food.”
Dollard wanted the center’s food to be “something that was fun and happy” instead. To meet that goal, he turned to chef Cesare Casella, who now heads the Department of Nourishment Arts. Cesare is also a restaurateur and television personality and the dean of Italian studies at the International Culinary Center in New York City.
Casella’s department operates 300 acres of certified organic and biodynamic farms that serve a dual purpose. First, the center is self-sufficient in the production of meat and fresh vegetables, meaning that a significant portion of guests’ food is produced directly under the guidance of the center’s nutritionists. Second, guests at the center can participate directly in growing their own food, offering them the opportunity to be physically active outdoors and interact meaningfully with plants, animals, staff, and fellow guests.
It’s suspected that environmental triggers, including those in food, play a role in many disabilities, and people with disabilities can also be at higher risk for gastrointestinal problems that can exacerbate other difficulties — everything from stress and anxiety to sleep and immune issues. The Center for Discovery serves over 1,000 people each year and does everything possible to ensure that quality food contributes to their guests’ long-term health. A focus on proper nutrition can benefit everyone, and incorporating these 15 foods into your diet is a great start to getting the nutrients you need.
Watch our full video on The Center for Discovery here.