La Sierra Students Make a R.E.A.L. Difference

Rent or groceries? This question represents a harsh reality for millions of families across the United States struggling to make ends meet. As families continue to struggle financially, health and wellness challenges are often close behind.

“You don’t need an expensive gym membership, impossible diet, or a Special Forces-qualified workout routine in order to be healthy.” reads the opening line of a new set of materials created for local families by the La Sierra University Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) Team. The students are responding to what they describe as the need to help families identify “simple and affordable ways to live better, healthier lives. And the results are generating quite a buzz on the La Sierra campus and in the local community.

Following several months of research on health and wellness in Riverside County, California, the students created the Riverside Eating and Living Healthy, or R.E.A.L. Healthy Project. Through a multi-pronged approach designed for long-term sustainable impact on local families, this project is making a real difference in the community. Utilizing space generously provided by the Family Service Association’s “Catering for a Cause” facility in Riverside, the students have created a free  health and nutrition class open to members of the community. The class is divided into three main components: simple nutrition and wellness, budgeting, and smart shopping.
Each class also includes a cooking demonstration and meal for participants, featuring simple recipes to feed a family of four for under ten dollars. Najwa Medina, owner of the popular local restaurant Green Olive Grill, has volunteered to provide the cooking demonstrations during the classes since March, 2012. “These students get it,” said Medina regarding the project team. “Families need to know that health doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. I am happy to be a part of the project.”

The next available class, open to members of the community, will take place on Monday, April 23 at 5:30 P.M. at 6060 Magnolia Avenue in Riverside, California. For more details, contact

In addition to free classes, R.E.A.L. Healthy also offers a free eight week coaching program for families, providing assistance including customized goal-setting, monthly grocery budgeting, and even mapping short walking routes near their homes. The team works with each family in particular to reduce food costs. “Our students understand that it takes more than a single class to achieve true impact,” said John Razzouk, advisor to the team. “So many families today are not deciding which diet or workout routine to use, they are deciding which bills to pay. We are providing support where it is needed most.”

Classes and coaching are not the only ways the R.E.A.L. Healthy team is providing such support. The students have also developed a creative way to support one of the most important community-serving organizations in the Inland Empire, the Second Harvest Food Bank. Responding to the “Let’s CAN Hunger” Challenge issued this year to colleges and universities across the United States by the Campbell’s Soup Company, this April 29, the team is hosting the Riverside 5 CAN 5K Run and Health Fair.

Open to the entire community, participation in this run/walk requires a  five can donation (or equivalent) which will benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank. This simple concept, and catchy name, is already gaining attention in the local area, with a following already growing on the related Facebook page at Families and individuals planning to participate in the run/walk on April 29 can register on-site at the event (corner of Riverwalk and Pierce St. in Riverside, CA) or register ahead of time online at The community health fair occurring during the event will be provided free of charge.

These creative new ideas from our students make the R.E.A.L. Healthy project one to certainly watch. Visit to learn more about how you can support these continued efforts.

R.E.A.L. Healthy,  is a project of the La Sierra University Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) Team, and partially funded by a grant from Versacare, Inc.   Contact:

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