There are multiple reasons why people may have unhealthy diets. Some reasons can include: lack of proper nutrition information, difficulties accessing affordable healthy foods, or lack of desire to change their eating habits because of various factors. While it is impossible for parks and recreation agencies to solve all barriers to healthy eating, there are still ways to promote healthy eating in your department and community. Our Wellness Initiative webpage provides information to help your department get a jumpstart on creating a healthier community when it comes to healthy eating and cooking.
Specifically, our tool kit page on Healthy Cooking and Nutrition Programs can guide your department in establishing nutrition programs for the community. The first step is to have nutrition training for your staff, which will increase awareness and knowledge of nutrition within your department. You can reach out to the local cooperative extension, county health department, or nutritionist from a local college to come and lead a staff training on nutrition. The next step is to build a network and create more contacts in your community, one idea is to reach out to local farmers to come and talk about the development of produce. Another option is to contact your local food bank to start a cooking program for food-insecure families. There could be other local vendors who are willing to help endorse healthy eating and nutrition programs as well. Lastly, one idea to expand awareness in your community is to a host a parks and recreation healthy cook-off. Pick a local or annual event to bring in community members, local farmers, chefs and vendors to share information, cooking-tips, and recipes. Refer to our Using Local Produce in Agency Programs webpage for more information on local produce in North Carolina.
Remember, knowledge is power! Healthy eating habits and information is continuously evolving and improving, it is important to share current information in your community. As always, be sure to share your nutrition or healthy cooking class ideas with us so we can add it to our wellness toolkit! (firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.ncrpa.net/?Wellnesssub)