Childhood Obesity Awareness Month
Childhood obesity awareness month is not only a time to recognize the health issues linked to obesity in children, but to celebrate our community’s progress in keeping our kids healthy. Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) provides oversight to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (we like to call it SNAP-Ed for short) activities for a ten-county region in eastern Washington. Through the hard work of our partnering agencies, SNAP-Ed works to educate and make changes that help kids choose healthy foods and activities. What does that look like in our region? Since school just started, let’s look at some examples in our schools!
In the spring of this year, Northeast Washington Education Service District 101’s (NEWESD 101) SNAP-Ed program worked with school districts to improve training and equipment for food service staff. With equipment additions, like blenders and food processors, and hands-on chef training, they were able to learn new techniques and recipes to create meals featuring fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. All the districts who participated reported that they plan on using at least one of the new recipes in their school menu.
Another NEWESD 101 project, supported by SNAP-Ed, educated and encouraged school districts to apply for school meal program funds through the Department of Defense (DOD) Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. This is a fairly new program that creates an option to order additional fresh fruits and vegetables for those who receive USDA food commodities, whether through school meals or other programs. NEWESD 101 staff worked with school districts to educate them about the program. Not only did the number of districts participating double, but all the participating districts planned to use the same amount or more DOD funds to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables in the upcoming school year. Those participating in the program appreciated being able to buy more fresh fruits and vegetables, including more expensive produce like strawberries, that would typically be outside of a school meal program budget.
There are many more stories like this showing our community’s work toward the health of our kids. There are also ways anybody can access these resources. For more information, resources, activities and even some great recipes check out these websites.