The WellSpan Spotlight

Health and wellness

Demo kitchen and farmer's market support WellSpan patients and community

Demo kitchen and farmer's market support WellSpan patients and community

The local farming community has always been close to Dan Waltersdorff's heart. Raised on an 83-acre self-sustaining family farm in Spring Grove, the ability to provide locally grown foods for the community was a priority for Dan's family while he was growing up.

So when the opportunity arose to fund a demo kitchen at the WellSpan Heart and Vascular Center along with a neighboring farmer's market, Dan and his wife, Trudy, knew it was a great way to not only continue their support of WellSpan but also honor their parents and the York County farming community as well.

Through his service, which led to years as chair for the former York Hospital board and a member of the WellSpan Health board, Dan has appreciated the need for state-of-the-art medical care in the region, including treatment provided at the WellSpan Heart and Vascular Center, which opened in 2021.

"WellSpan is a fantastic health system with a top-notch heart and vascular center in our own backyard," he said. "We had heart concerns in the family and so it spoke to us to give back, and was well worth the funding."

Dan and Trudy made their gift through the WellSpan York Health Foundation, explained Matt Lane, executive director of the WellSpan York Health Foundation. This helps align charitable giving with vital needs and projects at WellSpan.

Healthy recipes begin at the demo kitchen

When the 60,000 square foot WellSpan Heart and Vascular Center opened, it was the first of its kind in the area to diagnose and treat the most complex heart issues. Part of that treatment includes the center's demo kitchen, which teaches patients and community members how to prepare healthy recipes.

"My mother was a long-time stay-at-home mom and a fantastic cook," Dan said. "The demo kitchen is a unique space and it's in her honor."

"We wanted to provide high quality professional cooking demonstrations in collaboration with chefs, dieticians, health educators, and physicians," said Rosario (Russ) Campisi, corporate executive chef. "Each would contribute their expertise to health education and programs."

As a registered dietitian and also based at the center, Christine Lutes loves the idea of showing patients how to prepare healthy foods through cooking demonstrations. Each month, she prepares healthy samples in the demo kitchen for the patients in cardiac rehabilitation.

"Tasting the food is also just as important to show that the food can be both healthy and delicious," Christine said.

The kitchen also provides the opportunity for a library of classes tailored to patients' needs and long-term health goals, Russ added. In addition, it is also a place for community groups to hold programs and learn.

"And we thought, if we could broadcast, or live stream a class that would extend our reach and really give us the ability to interact with a very wide audience, so we added broadcasting and live streaming equipment into the design," Russ said.

Plans to live stream cooking demonstrations are already in the works for this fall, Christine added.

Fresh ingredients served daily 

Thanks to Dan and Trudy's support for a local farmer's market, J-Mar Farms has a produce store adjacent to the heart and vascular center, funded in honor of York County agricultural families and the work of farmers, like his parents.

"My dad was a farmer his whole life. Growing up on the farm, we grew acres of sweet corn for the community," Dan said and added that his two brothers, Tom and Bill, still farm the land. 

Their mom, who turns 91 this year, still lives in that same house and up until recently, cared for her own vegetable garden.

WellSpan, in turn, is growing its partnership with the market by purchasing seasonal fresh produce and herbs to be used in recipes and served in its cafes.

"I love that J-Mar is so close, and during my consultations I will tell patients about it, encouraging them to check it out as a convenient option to buying fresh produce," Christine said.

Although Dan is humble and prefers to work "behind the scenes," he and Trudy have enjoyed watching their support come to life to help the community. Dan's mom "gets a kick out of" calls from friends who see her name, "Delphine," on the plaques that are displayed at both the demo kitchen and the market, he added with a chuckle.