Open Door Food Strategy Initiative Kicks Off with Dr. Timothy Harlan
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27 January 2016
Dr Timothy S Harlan with Karen Karp (photo Ed Cody)
Dr Timothy S Harlan with Karen Karp (photo Ed Cody)

Dr. Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, assistant dean for Clinical Services at Tulane University Medical School in New Orleans and founder and executive director of the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine at Tulane, provided an overview of the Goldring Center’s curriculum and the impact of culinary medicine at the kickoff event of Open Door Family Medical Centers’ new food strategy initiative being developed by Karen Karp & Partners, at Tarry Market in Port Chester, N.Y., on Friday, January 15, 2016.

Before an audience of approximately 45, consisting largely of Open Door practitioners and staff, Dr. Harlan shared details of the curriculum at the Goldring Center, where medical students, doctors in CME courses, culinary students, and community members learn about nutrition and culinary medicine.  With experience in the field, as a former chef, as a practicing internist who attended medical school at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, where he also pursued his residency, and as a medical educator, Dr. Harlan gave an evidenced-based presentation on the benefits of the Mediterranean diet. As we’ve all heard time and again, several longitudinal studies show that those who follow the Mediterranean diet have lower risk for heart disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes.

The curriculum that Dr. Harlan created at the Goldring Center has been licensed by 20 institutions of higher learning, including by the new culinary medicine program that KK&P has helped develop at NorthWest Arkansas Community College.

Dr. Harlan challenged Open Door’s practitioners to think about how they, too, can incorporate the principles of the Mediterranean diet and culinary medicine into their everyday lives, at Open Door’s medical centers, and in their interactions with patients.

This challenge, in fact, is the principle of Karen Karp & Partners’ overall approach at Open Door: to work closely with practitioners to develop an understanding of their own food practices, cultures, and the ways food is incorporated into their lifestyles, as a critical first step to designing programs, prescriptions, and practices to grow the health of their patient community.

No good food event is complete without a meal, and dinner featured strategically into the program. Executive chef Jon Katz at Tarry Market worked with Karin Endy, senior consultant (and chef) at KK&P, to revise Tarry Market’s standard dinner menu to include more nutrient-dense foods to match the tenets of the Mediterranean diet. Antipasti were vegetable-based and included crudité with hummus and a variety of Mediterranean-style salads. For dinner, pasta in cream sauce became whole-wheat pasta with goat’s milk whey ricotta, and potato gnocchi in cream sauce became sweet potato gnocchi with a chestnut sauce. Dark greens and lean roast fish and pork were well-seasoned and cooked with olive oil.

Mediterranean-style Salmon with Olives (photo Ed Cody)
Mediterranean-style Salmon with Olives (photo Ed Cody)

This event served as the official kickoff of the development of a food strategy initiative for Open Door by Karen Karp & Partners. In 2015, the KK&P team conducted primary research through focus groups and interviews at three ODFMC sites to learn about how food figures into the lives of staff, practitioners, and patients. Themes emerged from these discussions and a steering committee was formed to develop a comprehensive food strategy for Open Door, a family health clinic practice in Westchester primarily serving a low-income population that suffers inordinately from medical disorders including obesity, diabetes, and hypertension, all of which may be mitigated by lifestyle changes — especially dietary changes.

Together with the steering committee, KK&P is currently undertaking additional research that will result in recommendations for new programming, facility improvements, and a recipe for how healthy food can be more fully incorporated into the culture at ODFMC.

Karen Karp & Partners (KK&P) is a growing, dynamic consulting company working at the intersection of food, agriculture and health, with two business units: Our Good Food Is Good Business unit helps clients to plan, achieve, and evaluate programs and operations that integrate healthy food, regional food, and sustainability into food business and nonprofit program operations. Our Good People Are Good Business unit provides high-impact expertise in analyzing organizational conditions and leadership alignment and to bring strategic clarity to both small and large organizations to reach their potential. The firm works with five key business sectors: education, corporations, government, nonprofit organizations, and small businesses.

The development of a new food strategy at Open Door would not be possible without the wholehearted support of ODFMC CEO Lindsay Farrell and the leadership of Andrea B. Ruggiero, director of care coordination and wellness initiatives.