Health District Helps Spokane Celebrate National Nutrition Month

Several Spokane Regional Health District programs encourage residents to ‘Savor the Flavor of Eating Right’

For more information, contact Kim Papich, SRHD Public Information Officer (509) 324-1539 or kpapich@srhd.org

SPOKANE, Wash. – March 18, 2016 – For National Nutrition Month 2016, Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) joins the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in encouraging everyone to "Savor the Flavor of Eating Right" by taking time to enjoy food traditions and appreciate the pleasures, great flavors and social experiences food can add to life. 

"Food nourishes the body and provides necessary fuel to help individuals thrive and fight disease," said Kyle Unland, registered dietitian and division director for SRHD’s Health Promotion division. "Food is also a source of pleasure and enjoyment. 'Savor the Flavor of Eating Right' by taking time to enjoy healthy foods and all the happiness they bring to your life." 

The health district has several programs that employ numerous registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) who work collaboratively with staff and partner agencies to ensure the community makes informed food choices. In hopes that the healthy choice becomes the easy choice for all residents, staff also work to improve healthy food access for all people regardless of income.

  • Women, Infants and Children (WIC)  nutrition program – The nation’s premier public health nutrition program has 10 Spokane County offices. SRHD’s WIC staff serves income-eligible pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, and infants and children, by providing no-cost essential nutrition and health-related information, breastfeeding support and counseling, and vouchers for free healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grain options. 

    Quality nutrition services are the centerpiece of WIC, which is why SRHD has seven registered dietitians (RDs) who offer enhanced services such as high-risk assessment and evaluation and are engaged in collaborative efforts to address chronic disease, obesity and other on-going stressors experienced by vulnerable populations. For this reason, WIC children enter school ready to learn and show better cognitive performance. In 2015, SRHD WIC staff conducted close to 54,000 individualized nutrition education sessions, promoting healthy food choices. 
  • Healthy Communities program - In terms of nutrition, SRHD’s Healthy Communities program works with community partners, agencies and coalitions to create healthy food and beverage environments. Several current initiatives include:
    • smarter lunchrooms and cafeteria designs in Spokane Public School’s elementaries
    • whole food cooking and nutrition training in Second Harvest’s The Kitchen facility for 30 early learning centers
    • sodium reduction and adoption of healthy nutrition guidelines in worksite cafeterias
    • customer-driven healthy food and beverage promotion at Wellpinit Trading Post
    • healthy food sourcing and promotion in 21 of Spokane County’s emergency food banks

    Together these programs have the potential of creating healthy food and beverage environments for over 114,397 employees, university and public school students, preschool students and preschool parents in Spokane County.
  • Neighborhoods Matter – SRHD’s Neighborhoods Matter (NM) program is a targeted community-driven approach to reduce the health disparities impacting maternal, child and family health. Food insecurity as well as access to healthy foods were identified as major concerns by residents in neighborhoods where staff work. As a result, NM partnered with other organizations to start a community garden and a farmers market.  
  • Nurse Family Partnership – One of the ways nurses in SRHD’s Nurse Family Partnership program work to improve pregnancy outcomes is by addressing nutritional requirements during pregnancy and helping clients maintain a healthy weight. Clients are first-time, low-income mothers who nurses visit in the home until the child is 2 years old.  
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed program) – SRHD’s SNAP-Ed staff support healthy nutrition in low-income adults by improving the environment in which they live and shop. A key component of this program is utilization of community health advocates—trusted peers who live in their communities who are trained to help bring information and resources to their neighbors. This approach is intended to help support healthy choices, in the face of financial limits, and to reach people that traditional methods often do not.

The program also has a public-facing campaign titled My Healthy Life, designed to support those who are eligible for SNAP benefits (Basic Food) in reaching their goals to get healthier. Specifically, overcoming barriers to eating more fruits and vegetables, getting more physical activity and choosing lower-fat dairy items.

"Staff in these programs know that we sometimes fall into a rut of eating the same foods over and over," says Unland. "However, there is a whole world of tasty and nutritious foods available today that are just waiting to be discovered. Different types of foods contain different nutrients that help us stay healthy. By turning off the TV and adding more variety, you and your family can put the fun and pleasure back into mealtime." 

Whether shopping at the grocery store, eating at a local restaurant or cooking meals at home, SRHD registered dietitian nutritionists offer easy steps to keep taste buds excited while making sure the body is getting the nutrients it needs.

At the grocery store
When shopping, make it a point to try one new fruit, vegetable or whole grain every week.

Eating at restaurants
The next time an individual heads out to eat, he or she can choose a restaurant that features ethnic foods from Asia, Europe or Africa. These restaurants often feature menus filled with healthy options that will be new to the person.

Cooking at home
Add variety to your staple dishes by varying the ways you cook them. Grill or broil the chicken you typically bake. Mash the potatoes you typically roast. Steam the vegetables you typically sauté. And get to know your spice cabinet.

Initiated in 1973 as a week-long event, “National Nutrition Week” became a month-long observance in 1980 in response to growing public interest in nutrition. Additionally, to commemorate the dedication of RDNs as advocates for advancing the nutritional health of Americans and people around the world, the second Wednesday of March was designated “Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day.” This year, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day was celebrated March 10. 

As part of this public education campaign, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ National Nutrition Month website includes a variety of helpful tips, fun games, promotional tools and nutrition education resources, all designed to spread the message of good nutrition around the “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right” theme.   

Information can also be found at www.srhd.org. SRHD’s Web site 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. Also, use the hashtags #NNM #SpokaneWIC and #SavortheFlavor