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The NC Recre8'er - is the Blog for NC Recreation and Parks Professionals. We will feature posts from NCRPA members and staff about all the latest news, insights and tips in our field and around the state. Topics will include but are not limited to: Health and Wellness, Outdoor Recreation, Athletics, Advocacy, Aquatics, Therapeutic Recreation, Special Events, Marketing, Parks and Greenways, Cultural Resources and more! If you are interested in being a guest blogger please contact Matt at NCRPA or 919-832-5868. The opinions of The NC Recre8'er (NCRPA) blog contributors don't necessarily reflect the editorial position of North Carolina Recreation and Park Association as a whole.


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June is Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month!

Posted By Matthew Carusona, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, June 13, 2016

Summer is here and the weather is warmer, especially this past weekend. Thankfully you can grab a fresh slice of orange or watermelon to cool you down! June is Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month and this week’s blog will highlight a few resources to get more fruits and vegetable on your plate whether it be at home or at work as part of your programs!

Buy in Season, Buy Local: Have you ever wondered, what’s in season? Well the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services makes it easy with their NC Produce Availability Chart. This chart can be used for finding the freshest and best tasting produce available. Buying your produce at a local farmer’s market, or grocery store that sources locally further ensures your produce is fresh; better yet, see if you can buy direct from a local grower. Additionally extra fruit and vegetables can be frozen and used later for anything from smoothies to fruit desserts.

Grow a Garden: Teaching citizens about healthy eating is important, but they cannot put that knowledge into practice if they do not have access to healthy food outside of class. Community gardens are a fantastic way to promote healthy eating. They can help teach people where their food comes from, and give them a chance to connect with their neighbors. Gardens can be small or large, but even a small garden can have a large impact on the health of your community. Check out our Community Garden Page in the wellness toolkit for more info.

Set Healthy Snack Guidelines: Parks and recreation agencies provide a lot of programming for children. Often that programming involves food, which can often be unhealthy. Providing fresh produce can be a great way to keep things healthy and expose participants to different fresh fruits and vegetables. Our wellness toolkit has some great guidelines and resources for increasing healthy snacks and food in sports, camp, afterschool, and other programs. Check out our Healthy Snack Guideline Page in the wellness toolkit for more info.

Quick Ideas: While large-scale projects are great, don't be discouraged if you don't have the resources to tackle a large project right away. Here are some easy things you can do to promote fresh fruits and vegetables along with wellness in your agency right now!

  • Healthy snack day at community center (provide fresh fruit and vegetables to each participant, or work with a local vendor to have a fresh fruit and vegetables food week)
  • Short health lesson with a healthy snack, consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables in after-school programs.
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables at staff meetings.
  • Fruit Fridays! Bring a different fruit to staff one Friday each month for a snack. Include a healthy recipe if you wish.
  • Pick up veggies from the farmer’s market (or harvest them from your garden) to share with staff.
You can also check out our webinar: 10 Ways to Improve Wellness in Your Department Now!

Tags:  Community Gardens  Health  Health and Wellness  Health Eating  Healthy Cooking  healthy eating  Healthy Foods  Healthy Lifestyle  Healthy Living  Healthy Snacks  Healthy Snacks Program  Live Healthy  Local Vendors  ncrpa  Recreation  Snack Nation  Wellness  Wellness bulletin 

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Season's Eatings: Enjoy The Fall Food

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Happy Tuesday,

The past couple blogs focused on nation-wide events taking place during the month of October! Both National Health Education Week and International Walk to School Day are awesome events to keep your community active and engaged. As the days get a bit colder, it is important to remain not only active but continue to eat healthy. Surprisingly, indicated that we eat about 200 more calories per day during the fall months.


Do not worry, this does not mean we have to give up our favorite fall foods! Encouragingly, fall foods such as soups, stews, sweet potatoes, apples and pumpkins and all greens are packed with fiber, protein, beta carotene and vitamin C! So first start the day with a healthy breakfast. According to Active’s 7 Ways to Stay Healthy This Fall, studies have indicated by eating breakfast in the morning can lower your calorie intake during the day and kick-start your metabolism. An example of a healthy meal can consist of oatmeal with blueberries or a banana. Oatmeal is a “whole” grain, and contains protein, soluble fiber, potassium, calcium and zinc, all great health benefits!

Another idea is to prepare your own lunch, as well as plan ahead for dinners during the week. You will feel less rushed after work and avoid the fast food line. Controlling your own meals will allow for conscious health choices. Locate a local farmer’s market to find healthy and fresh produce. Purchasing from local farmers not only means fresh products, but it also supports your community’s economy. Another benefit is that North Carolina has a long growing season, so it is possible to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables throughout most of the year. Make sure to take advantage! Not sure what is in season? Refer back to our Local Produce page to access information regarding your community’s produce and view What’s in Season? for fruit and vegetable availability.

Another important component for healthy eating is portion control. The Portion Plate is used by half a million dietitians, educators, and consumers to reinforce balanced eating and a healthy diet. When you are preparing meals, try to make half of the serving’s fruits and vegetables, serve more whole grains and do not oversize portions.


Combining all these tips and sharing it with your department and community will encourage people to live a more healthy and balanced lifestyle! Remember, continue to use social media outlets, such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, to share healthy recipes and ideas. There are plenty of options to enjoy your favorite foods while being health conscious. For more ideas you can refer to our Healthy Cooking and Nutrition Programs page.

If you have any healthy eating tips, recipes or ideas, then email us or submit them on the wellness site here: (,


Tags:  Eating Fresh  Health Eating  Local Vendors  Wellness bulletin 

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Be Smart, Eat Smart!

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, February 23, 2015

Good Afternoon,  

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! (,


Tags:  Health  Healthy Lifestyle  Local Vendors  Nutrition Programs  Wellness bulletin 

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