News and Events


Here is what's happening at Phoenix Food Hub

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Shorter Days Could Impact Your Mental Health Vitamin D is as vital for mental health as it is essential for physical health. During fall and winter months, when days are shorter, many people experience depression-like symptoms. This is believed to be at least partly due to lack of sun exposure—and lack of Vitamin D absorption into the skin. Research has shown that vitamin D, which is found in some foods and in the ultraviolet light from the sun, may play an important role in regulating mood and decreasing the risk of depression. According to the National Institutes of Health website, those groups who are at risk for vitamin D deficiency include the elderly, adolescents, obese individuals, and those with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes. These are the same groups that have also been reported to be at risk for depression.

Foods Rich in Vitamin D
Few foods are naturally rich in vitamin D3. The best sources are the flesh of fatty fish and fish liver oils. Smaller amounts are found in egg yolks, cheese, and beef liver. Certain mushrooms contain some vitamin D2; in addition some commercially sold mushrooms contain higher amounts of D2 due to intentionally being exposed to high amounts of ultraviolet light. Many foods and supplements are fortified with vitamin D like dairy prod-ucts and cereals.

Depression, SAD and Diet
Seasonal depression, more formally known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is a common mood disorder characterized by low energy, hope-lessness, difficulty concentrating, and sleep problems that coincide with the change in seasons, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The cause of SAD is likely multifactorial, and may include imbal-ances in mood-regulating brain chemicals, as well as a lack of vitamin D (from less sunlight), and an overproduction of the sleep-regulating hor-mone melatonin.

The 10 Best Foods to Soothe Seasonal Depression:
1. Salmon and Rainbow Trout
2. Berries
3. Whole grain bread + protein
4. Green, black or white tea
5. Green leafy vegetables
6. Protein
7. Crab
8. Whole grain pasta
9. Dark Chocolate
10. Beans

The Food and Thought Program works to promote awareness and provide short term counselling around the important link be-tween. nutrition and emotional health. For more information or for a referral to the program, please contact the Food and Thought Program at 781-599-0110.

This work is supported by the Beverly and Addison Gilbert Hospital Community Benefits Community Grant Program and the Essex County Community Foundation Behavioral Health Partnership Grant.

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Feeling tired? Low energy? Unmotivated? It could be your diet! 

There are a lot of things that can cause fatigue; a poor night’s sleep or not enough sleep, stress, even some health conditions. But what we eat also plays an important role in our energy level - in both positive and negative ways. Because the body is fueled by the foods that we eat it is important to feed it the best foods possible, and to avoid those that leave us feeling sluggish, tired and unable to concentrate. Focus on whole foods and avoid processed foods whenever possible. Below is a list of some of the best—and worst—foods for optimum cognitive health.

What are Processed Foods and How Do They Effect Emotional Health?
Most food needs some degree of processing, and not all processed foods are bad for the body. However, chemically processed foods, also called ultra-processed foods, tend to be high in sugar, artificial ingredients, re-fined carbohydrates, and trans fats. Because of this, they are a major contributor to obesity and illness around the world, and are increasingly being linked to impaired brain health, including mood disorders and cognitive decline.
In recent decades, ultra-processed food intake has in-creased dramatically worldwide. These foods now ac-count for 25-60% of a person’s daily caloric intake throughout much of the world.
These ultra-processed foods are sometimes called “cosmetic” foods, as compared with whole foods. Some examples of ultra-processed foods include:: frozen or ready meals, baked goods—including pizza, cakes, and pastries, packaged breads, processed cheese products, breakfast cereals, crackers and chips, candy and ice cream, instant noodles and soups, reconstituted meats, such as sausages, nuggets, fish fingers, processed ham, sodas and other sweetened drinks.

Foods to Eat More Of

  • Avocado
  • Kidney beans
  • Almonds
  • Banana
  • Spinach
  • Dates
  • Brown rice

Foods to Avoid

  • Artificially sweetened foods and beverages
  • White bread
  • Baked goods
  • High caffeine drinks
  • Processed and/or cured meats (such as sausage, bacon and salami)

Rule of Thumb — Read your labels. The fewer ingredients the better! If there is an ingredient listed that your grandmother would not recognize, AVOID THAT FOOD!

Change can be difficult. Start by adding a few healthier food choices to your daily and weekly meal plans. Then slowly add more as you begin to remove some of the less healthy choices. And be patient with yourself. Change takes time. But your body—and your brain—will thank you for it

This work is supported by the Beverly and Addison Gilbert Hospital Community Benefits Community Grant Program and the Essex County Community Foundation Behavioral Health Partnership Grant.

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Why Diet Matters: Gut Health and Mood

The gastrointestinal tract (gut) is sensitive to emotions like anger, anxiety, sadness, and joy which can trigger physical symptoms .This connection goes both ways. A troubled intestine can send signals to the brain, just as a troubled brain can send signals to the gut. Therefore, a person's intestinal distress can be either the cause or the product of anxiety, stress, or depression. This connection is so strong that many consider the gut the “second brain!”

Physical Symptoms of Depression:
• Vague aches and pain
• Chronic joint , limb or back pain
• Gastrointestinal problems
• Tiredness
• Sleep disturbances
• Appetite changes.

Emotional Symptoms of Depression:
• On-going low mood or sadness
• Feeling hopeless or helpless
• Having low self-esteem
• Feeling tearful
• Feeling irritable and intolerant of others.
• Low motivation

1. Dark leafy greens
2. Eggs
3. Lentils
4. Turkey
5. Fatty fish
6. Avocados
7. Chia Seeds
8. Fermented Foods
9. Almonds
10. Bell Peppers
Source: https://www.culinarynutrition.commood-boosting-foods/


This work is supported by the Beverly and Addison Gilbert Hospital Community Benefits Community Grant Program and the Essex County Community Foundation Behavioral Health Partnership Grant.


Programs and services at the Phoenix Food Hub have really been taking off since the opening of the program space this past December! We are assisting an ever increasing number of people with nutritional and other related health needs in the Greater Lynn community. Here's a brief rundown of some of the positive impacts Phoenix programs have been making.

Healthy Cooking Demonstrations

UMass Extension Nutrition Education Program has been holding cooking demonstrations in the Phoenix teaching kitchen using ingredients available from the Catholic Charity Food Pantry. Visitors to the food pantry can sample featured dishes. UMass also hosted two Spanish- and English-language seven week healthy cooking demonstration programs.

Caregiver Cooking Classes

The GLSS Family Caregiver Support Program has been working with groups from the Lynn Council on Aging Senior Center through monthly cooking classes that focus on the power of using freshly prepared food not only as a tool in caring for another person but also as a tool for self-care. Avocado toast, tea brewed with fresh ingredients, and fruit parfait are just some of the dishes prepared and enjoyed by participants!

Click Here to watch a video about the Caregiver Cooking Class



Nutrition Program Referrals, Counseling, and Resources

Phoenix Navigators Eunice Lopez and Rose MacDonald have been busy handling referrals for services, fielding an increasing number of requests per week. Referrals come in from partner health agencies as well as self-referrals from individuals. Consumers can set up a counseling session with GLSS nutritionist Ellen Goldman or get information and connection to a variety of programs that can help them live healthier lives.

Eunice Lopez, a Phoenix Navigator, helping prepare meals for delivery to Meals on Wheels consumers.


New "Food and Thought" Program

The "Food and Thought" program is a new addition to services available through Phoenix Food Hub and provides education and counseling to individuals interested in addressing the important link between nutrition and mental well-being. Lynn O'Neal, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Integrative Mental Health Provider, leads this innovative program informed by a growing body of research pointing to the critical connection between what we eat and how it impacts our physical, mental, and emotional health.

The Food and Thought program is supported by the Beverly and Addison Gilbert Hospital Community Benefits Community Grant Program and the Essex County Community Foundation Behavioral Health Partnership Grant.

Lynn O'Neal, LMHC CIMHP, is a part of the GLSS Mobile Mental Health team as well as the lead for the new Food and Thought program.

On behalf of the Lynn Food Security Task Force, thank you to all the current Phoenix Food Hub funders: Mass General Brigham; Trustee; the City of Lynn; Element Care; Essex County Community Foundation; Point32Health Foundation; Beverly and Addison Gilbert Hospitals; Alfred E. Chase Charity Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee; Charles H. Farnsworth Trust, Bank of America, N.A. Trustee; and many private donors.

Here's to a great start for an amazing community resource with more to come!