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Healthy cooking/nutrition programs

There are many reasons why people have unhealthy diets. These can include: problems accessing affordable, healthy food; convenience of pre-packaged food; little to no desire to eat healthfully; lack of knowledge about proper nutrition; and lack of confidence in preparing healthy meals. While parks and recreation agencies cannot combat all of these barriers, one way to increase healthy eating in your community is through healthy cooking or nutrition programs. Try holding a cooking class, or begin a program that introduces kids to healthy food. Below are a few ideas and resources to get you started:

Nutrition Training for Staff

One barrier for many agencies is that they do not have staff with expertise in nutrition. Instead of scrambling to find someone knowledgeable from outside your agency to teach a course, ask the county health department, or a nutritionist from your local college to come and lead a staff training on nutrition and teaching others about healthy eating. Not only will they be trained to lead nutrition programs, they will also be able to serve as ambassadors for healthy eating within your agency and the community.

Potential Partners

Nutrition curricula are a great resource, but there are also other partners that your agency can reach out to to develop healthy eating and nutrition education programs. Your county health department is an obvious choice; however, you could also reach out to local farmers to come and talk about the development of produce. Or develop a shared use agreement with your local high school to use their kitchen space for your cooking classes. Try partnering with your local food bank to start a cooking program for food-insecure families. There are many possibilities.

Next Steps

First, share your nutrition or healthy cooking class with us, so we can share your experience here in the toolkit. Second, here are some ideas for expanding your agency's healthy eating programs:

  • Partner with a local food bank or charity and give healthy food for kids to take home over the weekend (similar to the Backpack Buddies program)
  • Host a parks and rec healthy cook-off in your community, using local chefs, and let the public eat the results
  • Hold a community fair, and include programs for children to learn about produce
  • Take a field trip with one of your programs to a local farm


Healthy Food Curriculum and Recipes

Information about Produce and NC Agriculture

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