How the Program Started

Developed by Mary M. Flynn, PhD, RD, L.D.N., research dietitian at The Miriam Hospital in Providence, RI and Associate Professor of Medicine, Clinical at Brown University, the Healing Foods Project is a program that utilizes recipes based on a plant-based, extra virgin olive oil diet that research has proven to have numerous health benefits.

Dr. Flynn designed her nationally-recognized plant-based, extra virgin olive oil diet in 1999 and began to focus her research on its results shortly after. Her initial research tested how this diet compared to conventional lower fat diets for improvement in body weight and risk factors for chronic diseases.

Early in her research, Dr. Flynn’s study participants touted that the diet’s meals were not only easy to prepare and tasted good, but were also less expensive than what they had been eating. This led Dr. Flynn in 2007 to develop a 6-week cooking program using recipes that follow her plant-based, extra virgin olive oil diet for clients of food pantries. Following this, she published a study from the program that showed when food pantry clients used the recipes for 2 to 3 main meals per week, they had a decrease in food insecurity, as well as a decrease in body weight and an improvement in overall health. Additionally, participants spent significantly less on groceries, with fewer purchases of meat, desserts, snack foods and carbonated beverages.

When Rev. Mary Margaret Earl, the former Associate Director of McAuley House read about the program and its study results, she invited Dr. Flynn to work with McAuley House to develop recipes that could be implemented in large scale for low-income, congregate meal sites. This led to the Healing Foods Project.

This website is meant to serve as a resource for fellow meal sites, as well as the general public, interested in improving health by bringing Healing Foods Project recipes to their kitchens.