Berry News

Planting the seeds of healthy living

Source: | June 27, 2017

It consists of 10 20-minute sessions held once a week, said Gabby Guzman, program coordinator, who works at Reiter’s Salinas office, situated off Rossi Street.

“We talk about all the topics: diabetes, obesity, blood pressure, cholesterol and how to read nutrition labels,” Guzman said.

Training begins with a saying, such as, “A chip off the old block.” When related to healthy living that can be translated as, “If parents are eating unhealthy, so will the kids.”

The sessions finish up by promoting five health steps to healthy living: move, drink water, eat fruits and vegetables, measure food portions and your waist and share the information with family members.

Trainees then take the information they have learned to the field, where they practice their skills. For instance, they may challenge a crew to see if they can go a week without drinking sugary sodas. Also, crews began the day with warm-up exercises and do them again after their lunch break.

Reiter employees who run the program return a year later and review the five healthy steps with workers who were trained. Different sessions are offered as well.

“We’re still kind of in the development stage,” Guzman said of the program. “But we want the kind of program that will be lasting.”

Jose Rocha, a crew leader with Reiter in Watsonville who was trained as a health program leader, said, “It helps a lot because what we’ve learned during the leadership training. It helps a lot for our work and in our personal life. It motivates us and it makes us feel like the company is thinking about us. It’s a reminder to take care of our health.”

Another element of the program is monitoring farmworkers’ health, said Priscila Cisneros, program manager. Before the training sessions start 30 percent of a field crew are screened to establish a health study marker.

The company does blood work, testing glucose and hemoglobin. Blood pressure and cholesterol levels are checked and workers’ height and weight are measured.

“It’s another way of looking at the impact of the program,” Cisneros said.

“Being one of the (farmworker health) leaders has been a major accomplishment for Reiter,” she said.

Guzman, who has a degree from CSU, Monterey Bay, in collaborative health and health and human services, said working in the Sembrando Salud program is her dream job.

“It’s very fulfilling to apply everything I learned in my degree and giving back to the community,” she said.

She is one of a team of 10 that administer the program.

Reiter has expanded the program to family members of farmworkers. Free Zumba classes are available and there is an annual 5K run for workers and their families.

“The overall goal is to have fun and get you physically active,” Cisneros said. “The kids love it.”