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A healthy state of the city

Published 10:20pm Tuesday, May 6, 2014

For the second year in a row, guests at the Suffolk State of the City event enjoyed a healthy meal that was created in partnership with the Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community, Healthy People/Healthy Suffolk and the Obici Healthcare Foundation.

About 500 people were in attendance at the annual event, which was sponsored by the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce.

Gina Pitrone, executive director of the Obici Healthcare Foundation, said having a healthy meal not only helps those in attendance but also influences those decision makers on choices they can make within their own companies.

“If businesses who pay those health care insurance premiums want to see the health care costs go down, then we have to lead by example,” Pitrone said. “The fact the city has endorsed Healthy People Healthy Suffolk and is partnering with us and moving forward on these initiatives is exciting.”

The menu included a garden salad with no cheese and only vinaigrette dressing available; baked chicken with a mushroom sauce, long-grain brown rice and asparagus; and single-serve frozen yogurts with a variety of toppings, including fruit, as a dessert option.

“The first year, we really worked hard to get the Chamber of Commerce to consider healthy options, because in the past we had had mashed potatoes and gravy,” Pitrone said. “They switched over to the brown, long-grain rice, which is a little more fiber, a little healthier.”

Pitrone also applauded the Hilton Garden Inn Riverfront, where the event was held, for its efforts in offering healthy options for catered events. She also complimented the Suffolk Education Foundation and Suffolk Public Schools for its State of the Schools event last month, which featured healthy breakfast options such as yogurt parfaits and egg wraps in whole-grain tortillas.

“I think the more we can compliment organizations for making those choices, it’s good,” she said. “I think we’re making positive steps in the right direction.”

Pitrone said the next step at the State of the City event will be locally sourced vegetables.

“I know the mayor likes to support ‘buy local,’” Pitrone said. “We like to see our local farmers supported. Every year, we’ve got to take it up a notch.”

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