July 21, 2014

Three months ago, sixteen parks and recreation agencies across the state were selected to receive the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation Healthy Eating Equipment Grants. These grants provide up to $5000 for equipment that will increase access to healthy food. Today, I am going to share updates from a few of the grantees about the progress they have made this summer on their projects:

Buncombe County Parks and Recreation received funds for new equipment at their Sand Hill Community Garden, which serves nearby families. Lynn Pegg says “The Sand Hill Community Garden is growing strong this season.  We have gotten the fencing erected around the garden to help keep out the “critters”.  We are still in the planning phase of what type of gate to install. In early June the Sand Hill was one of the community gardens on the Gardens That Give WNC group tour. This tour was set up for community members across Buncombe County to come out and see different styles of community gardens, speak to the gardeners of various gardens and have a taste of fresh grown produce. Each week the garden donates food for Montmorenci Church’s free produce market and community meal. By June 10th, Sand Hill Community Gardeners had already harvested over 76 lbs. of fresh produce to donate. This amount didn’t include what the gardeners took home to their families. Thanks to the grant funds, and the availability of new/additional hand tools for the garden, members have been able to recruit several new volunteers and families.”

Kannapolis Parks and Recreation added three new glass-front refrigerators in their concession stands at Village Park, Bakers Creek Park, and CMC-NorthEast Stadium. George Hall tells us that “The healthier snacks are a big hit, especially at our splash pad concession stand. String cheese sticks and Go-Go Squeeze Applesauce are the two best sellers and a strawberry frozen fruit bar is a favorite on hot summer days.  Parents and children have really enjoyed having the healthier options available. Sales are better than we expected with over 10,000 healthy snacks and beverages sold through June.”

Thomasville Parks and Recreation’s community garden is going strong. Beth Farrell says that “We’ve had a great summer in our garden so far. The kids involved have loved planting, tending and now harvesting our fresh veggies. We have harvested and distributed over 1100 servings of vegetables so far. Most of the harvest has gone to youth involved in our summer camp and tiny tots programs. The afterschool program youth were able to harvest some items before school let out for the summer, and we have been able to pass some along to Cooperative Community Ministries, a local food bank.  We have had several cooking programs and learned to chop squash and zucchini for a healthy snack, made zucchini muffins, salsa, toasted pumpkin seeds and made a pumpkin dip already from the items in our garden. We were able to secure fencing, a storage shed and garden tools with our grant funding and we still have money for our fall and spring plantings. “

Graham Recreation and Parks are transitioning their concession stands to include healthy options. Aaron Davis wrote this update: “We have purchased the new equipment that will allow the City of Graham to sell healthy items. In addition, we are creating signage for our concession stands explaining the purpose of the changes and have re-painted certain concession stands that needed it.  We are working on developing our final menu for our fall sports and hope to have that ready soon. The most amazing aspect of receiving this grant has been the willingness for businesses to understand the importance of our mission.  Many of the items we have purchased were discounted even more than we had imagined because those business owners felt the need to be a part of this difference-making opportunity. We have sent out emails and press releases to our local media outlets along with making sure that each and every family that participates in our recreational programs knows about the changes to come.  September 2014 can’t come soon enough as we are all excited about our first night as a healthy concession stand!” 

We have so many grantee updates that we can’t fit them all in one Wellness Bulletin! Keep an eye out on social media and future Wellness Bulletins in the coming weeks to hear more about the great work these agencies are doing to promote healthy eating in their communities. For the latest on all the agencies, visit our grantee update page

Finally, we have another free Wellness Webinar tomorrow. The topic is healthy food programming and partnerships, and Kenyatta Lanier from Wilson County Cooperative Extension will be presenting. Register here.

Erin

Erin Crouse
Graduate Assistant, NC Recreation & Park Association
883 Washington St, Raleigh, NC  27605
erin@ncrpa.net

 

North Carolina Recreation and Park Association
883 Washington St, Raleigh, NC 27506
         

 

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