Since WellMASS has only been around for a little over a year, we’re still a growing program looking for innovative ideas to engage state agencies in wellness activities. I often look to the Department of Correction as a model agency when it comes to wellness, as they have had a successful structure in place for quite some time, and employees are always eager and willing to participate in Lunch ‘n Learn seminars and other onsite activities. The employees of MCI Norfolk are no exception, and they have truly raised the bar when it comes to innovative wellness programs with their 2013 Employee Cook-off.
I was very excited when Wellness Champion Captain Arnie Larson invited me to be a guest judge at this year’s cook-off, which was held during lunchtime last Monday. I knew I would be in for a fun-filled afternoon of healthy eating, but I had no idea how many tasty, nutritious foods I’d have the privilege of judging. Over a dozen employees prepared healthy dishes, from salads and appetizers to main courses and desserts, and all of them were delicious. I, along with my fellow judges Superintendents Gary Roden, Donald Levesque, James Saba, Michael Thompson, and ADC Michael Grant, had a very hard time picking a winner, but we ultimately decided that Captain Andrew Rego’s pulled pork deserved top honors. I usually associate pulled pork with a heavy, fatty meal at a BBQ restaurant, but Captain Rego’s dish was anything but. He served up a lean cut of pork with a fat-free, low-calorie barbeque sauce that had everyone’s mouth watering. Besides the fact that Captain Rego transformed a normally less-than-nutritious dish into something fairly healthy, I also voted for him because he made me actually like pork, which I haven’t eaten, or enjoyed, in years.
Captain Rego’s pulled pork was not the only noteworthy dish – top honors also went to Captain Larson’s Mex Bites, CPO A/B Eileen Yelle’s noodle kugel, and Sgt. Maryann Lewis’ chocolate truffle. I left the cook-off well-fed and with new ideas for healthy recipes (some of which will appear on this blog in upcoming weeks). If your agency is looking for a unique way to get employees excited about wellness, I recommend you consider following MCI Norfolk’s lead and hosting a healthy cook-off.