My25 Program Prompts Healthier Meals | Easterseals Arc of Northeast Indiana
Haffner House staff member Bonnie Reeves cuts up vegetables before dinner as resident Monica watches and staff member Geraldine Emedobi finishes preparing dinner.
Nona enjoys a cup of pudding after dinner at Haffner House.
My25 provides detailed dinner menus for each house it serves, including these for Haffner House.
Staff member Bonnie Reeves watches Haffner House residents during their dinner.
Staff member Tammy Thompson assists a Weston resident with his dinner. “Honestly, most everything that comes on the menus, the guys like,” Thompson said of the My25 meals.
Staff member Jan Hardacre, left, spends dinner time with four of the residents of Weston House.
The St. Joseph Community Health Foundation
This program is partially supported by a grant from the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation.

A program called My25 promises to create healthier meals, individually customized to meet dietary restrictions, while staying within grocery budgets. By all indications, My25 is succeeding in the first four Easterseals Arc of Northeast Indiana group homes where residents and staff use it.

“Honestly, most everything that comes on the menus, the guys like,” said Tammy Thompson, a staff member at Weston House in Columbia City.

“I like it! I like everything but Brussels sprouts,” said Jonathan, who lives at Weston.

Lonnie, who also lives at Weston, disagreed. “I like Brussels sprouts,” he said.

Easterseals Arc began its contract with the My25 company in January. My25 provides detailed daily menus for each of the four group homes it works with, including alternatives that account for the dietary needs and eating preferences of each resident.

“From what I’ve heard, I think they like it,” Christiana Patterson, Easterseals Arc director of group homes, said.

The program will be expanded to additional group homes. In general, My25 steers diets toward lower-fat protein sources, low- or zero-calorie drinks, more fruits and vegetables, and healthier snacks.

“Sometimes I have to watch the grease,” said Jane, who lives at Haffner House in Fort Wayne. “It’s not as greasy now,” she said of the new menus.

Jane, who says she can’t eat fish, was pleased one evening when she had chicken salad as her main dinner protein instead of the fish everyone else had.

My25 keeps tabs on how the group homes and their residents are doing under the plan. In a May report to Easterseals Arc, the company said that 11 of 14 people whose weights were reported were at or moving toward a healthy body mass index. One resident had lost 10 pounds under the plan, and another lost 8 pounds, My25 said. The company said all four homes reported being within their grocery budgets.

Among other meal plan adjustments of the My25 program at Easterseals Arc:

  • One slow-cooker meal per week at each house cuts down on the time staff members need to prepare food.
  • One-half plate of vegetables at dinner boosts nutrition.
  • At one house, Bran Flakes were taken off breakfast menus because residents disliked them.
  • At another house, decaf coffee was added at breakfast and dinner.
  • Because of a resident’s allergy, nuts aren’t on the menu at one of the group homes.

Jessica Ward, who supervises Weston, said My25 has been very responsive to her questions and requests. For example, residents there wanted less chicken and no black beans in their menus, and the company changed meal plans accordingly.

Patterson said that persuading staff members to embrace the new menus and new styles of meal preparation has taken some time. She said that it appears the cost of the groceries required at each home hasn’t increased, but she said it will take more time to assess whether costs change using My25.

This program is partially supported by a grant from the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation.