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At-home cooking program spreading holiday cheer

Not only does "Healthy Options at Home" deliver fresh foods to families for free, it's helping one local gym owner keep some of her furloughed staff employed.

Two hundred families in Buffalo will have a fresh meal to cook together each week this month, thanks to a new program from the Independent Health Foundation and the First Niagara Foundation supported by KeyBank. 

The Healthy Options at Home program delivers meal kits from Wegmans and Balanced Body Foods to families who participate in Independent Health's Soccer for Success program, which went virtual this year. Once they receive their free kits, they watch online cooking demo's to learn how to prepare the meal as a family. 

For Balanced Body Foods Owner Ashley Draper, who also owns the Jada Blitz Fitness, this has been more than a way to give back to the community this holiday season. It also means she keep some of her gym staff on board, even though their business is shut down. 

"We kind of had an assembly line here where we were packing all the kits together, and divided up the routing for everybody," Draper explained. "The drivers came back with like such enthusiasm. They felt so great to be a part of this." 

"It was really great to see all the families excited already," Independent Health Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Brianna Bartholomew added. "We use a remind system where they're able to text us, so we have pictures, some people post it on their social media themselves. So they're definitely very excited and happy to make a meal together as a family. "

To access the recipes and cook along at home yourself, visit www.HealthyOptionsBuffalo.com