Health District Helps Spokane Celebrate National Nutrition Month

Health District Helps Spokane Celebrate National Nutrition Month

Mar 01, 2017

Several of Spokane Regional Health District programs encourage residents to "Put Your Best Fork Forward" when eating, dining out

SPOKANE, Wash. –  March 1, 2017 - For National Nutrition Month 2017, Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) joins the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in encouraging everyone to find their healthy eating style and "Put Your Best Fork Forward" when dining out. At the office or a restaurant, eating away from home doesn't have to undermine healthful habits. 

"Choosing healthful options at restaurants is easier today than it ever has been," said Kyle Unland, registered dietitian and division director for SRHD’s Health Promotion division. "Use a smart-eating strategy to plan ahead, consider the menu and choose foods carefully." 

According to Unland, how much you eat is as important as what you eat. For example, if you plan to have lunch with coworkers, eat a light dinner. If you know you’re going to a restaurant in the evening, plan to have lighter meals earlier in the day. 

When it comes to ensuring the community makes informed food choices, the health district has several programs that employ numerous registered dietitians (RDs) who work collaboratively with staff and partner agencies. 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 WIC staff serve income-eligible pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, and infants and children, by:

  • providing vouchers for free, healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grain options
  • offering breastfeeding support and counseling
  • screening and health care access to prevent nutrition-related health problems

Quality nutrition services are the centerpiece of WIC, which is why SRHD has four RDs who offer enhanced services such as high-risk assessments 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.  

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 and policies. As part of a three-year grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, staff focused on sodium reduction in:

  • student meals at four local universities
  • employee meals at four local hospitals
  • a casino
  • meals from a local pizza chain

These efforts resulted in savings of over 400,000 teaspoons of salt served in 1,600,000 portions, available to more than 62,056 students and employees in Spokane County. 

Cooks Connection is an ongoing, free, quarterly whole foods preparation training for child care providers organized and offered by SRHD. In 2016, 58 child care cooks were trained and 33 percent of cooks attended more than one training.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed program) – SRHD’s SNAP-Ed staff support healthy nutrition among low-income adults by providing education and improving the environment in which they live and shop. A variety of approaches are supported with key community partners, including using 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 and getting more physical activity. 

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 dietitians as advocates for advancing the nutritional health of Americans and people around the world, the second Wednesday of March is designated “Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day.” This year, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day will be March 8. 

As part of National Nutrition Month, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website includes articles, recipes, videos and educational resources to spread the message of good nutrition and an overall healthy lifestyle for people of all ages, genders and backgrounds. Consumers can also follow National Nutrition Month on Facebook and Twitter (#NationalNutritionMonth).

Information can also be found at 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. Also, use the hashtags #NNM #SpokaneWIC and #SavortheFlavor