My Healthy Life Spokane Launch
Spokane Regional Health District Launches its ‘My Healthy Life’ Campaign
Because everyone deserves health, resources for Spokane’s SNAP-eligible population help them achieve healthier goals
SPOKANE, Wash. – Sept. 22, 2015 – Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) today announced an ambitious new campaign – My Healthy Life – to help improve nutrition and physical activity rates among Spokane’s underserved populations. The campaign focuses county-wide on adults who are eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (Basic Food) benefits and increasing their fruit and vegetable intake and physical activity rates, and supporting lower-fat dairy choices.
New data collected by the health district shows 73 percent of Spokane’s SNAP (formerly Food Stamps)-eligible adults are not eating recommended daily amounts of fruits. Seventy-one percent are not eating the recommended amounts of vegetables. Of the low income adults surveyed who drink milk, only 28 percent drink non-fat or 1% (low-fat) milk as recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). And according to Spokane Counts data, only 53 percent of adults earning $25,000 or less annually here are meeting weekly recommendations for physical activity.
“Low-income adults and families face high levels of stress due to the financial and emotional pressures of food insecurity, low-wage work, lack of access to health care, inadequate transportation and other factors,” said Kyle Unland, SRHD Health Promotion division director. “Those issues create unique challenges to adopting and sustaining healthier behaviors, which is why we worked hard to make this campaign as dynamic as possible.”
Most Americans do not eat enough fruits and vegetables, but according to a recent American Journal of Preventive Medicine review, SNAP participants on average consume even fewer fruits and vegetables than their higher-earning peers. And considering that a diet lacking in vegetables and fruits increases the risk for a range of chronic health conditions, including heart disease, certain types of cancer, obesity and type 2 diabetes, there is potential to further compound the vulnerability of some of Spokane’s most under served individuals.
“Now we’re looking at an individual who potentially earns less than $2,000 a month, who already faces a disparity in health coverage and access, then add the burden of a chronic health condition. Their financial and emotional stress is even more compounded—not to mention the excess costs of care to our society and loss to our economy.”
To improve nutrition and physical activity rates among lower income adults in Spokane, the health district conceived its My Healthy Life campaign under the banner of its SNAP Education (SNAP-Ed) program, which is funded by a grant from Washington State Department of Health, Department of Social and Health Services and USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service. The goal of SNAP-Ed is to improve the likelihood that persons eligible for SNAP will make healthy choices within a limited budget and choose active lifestyles consistent with the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate. The campaign joins with two other SNAP-Ed initiatives: 1) launching a Community Health Worker model within various low income housing locations locally and 2) leveraging community partnerships to encourage policy, system and environmental changes that support healthy behaviors. This comprehensive approach builds on effective strategies and mobilizes public and private sector resources.
Through the campaign’s associated website, myhealthylifespokane.org, the health district showcases real local SNAP recipients on their journeys to healthier lives, as well as advocates sharing the successes of their communities. The campaign is collaborative and community-oriented and includes strategies to address the realistic factors that lead to unhealthy behaviors. It takes into account how life is really lived in all neighborhoods across Spokane—encouraging, supporting and pursuing solutions that are tailored to adults facing a wide range of challenges and life circumstances. Best practice nutrition and physical activity improvement strategies promoted by the campaign include:
- Increasing healthy food access at farmers markets and grocery stores.
- Encouraging participation in federal food and nutrition assistance programs—SNAP, Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program and Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).
- Encouraging participation in community and home gardens.
- Providing education about ways to eat healthier on a limited budget, and promoting resources that can help, such as food banks and farmers markets.
- Collaborating with key community outlets and stakeholders.
- Disseminating family-friendly educational materials that encourage family meals and offering low-cost healthy recipes.
- Promoting no-cost or low-cost ideas and places for physical activity, combined with informational outreach activities.
- Engaging local businesses, community groups and citizens in active living.
- Disseminating individually-adaptable ideas for healthier behavior change.
- Offering creative solutions to get more active with friends. Seventy-five percent of SNAP-eligible adults in Spokane said they would be more likely to participate in physical activity if it was with a friend.
- Promoting family-friendly physical activity opportunities throughout the year.
- Touting availability of area hiking and walking trails.
The strategies will be shared and visible in many parts of Spokane County including on the My Healthy Life website, in testimonials on television commercials and associated websites, through social media and mobile ads, and heard in radio commercials.
More information can also be found at www.srhd.org. SRHD’s website offers comprehensive, updated information about Spokane Regional Health District and its triumphs in making Spokane a safer and healthier community. Become a fan of SRHD on Facebook to receive local safety and wellness tips. You can also follow us on Twitter @spokanehealth.