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Healthy Eating Equipment Grants Grantee Update
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Healthy Eating Equipment Grants Grantee Updates

In spring 2014, the North Carolina Recreation and Park Association (NCRPA) partnered with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) Foundation to provide almost $70,000 in Healthy Eating Equipment grants to sixteen park and recreation departments across the state. These healthy eating grants align with NCRPA’s Wellness Initiative, which seeks to empower park and recreation agencies in North Carolina to create healthy communities through the development of programs, policies, and infrastructure that support healthy eating and physical activity. Below are the latest updates from the sixteen grantees on their progress with the grant.

Grant Details and Press Release

Recreation Division of Buncombe County Library, Recreation and Culture:

Buncombe County received grant funds to add equipment to their existing community garden, which serves nearby families. From Lynn Pegg: "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."

Cabarrus County Active Living and Parks:

Cabarrus County received grant funds to establish a mobile concession stand. Mike Murphy reports that all of the equipment was purchased and the trailer has been set up. It has been used for one event so far.

Town of Clayton Parks and Recreation:

Clayton has received funds to build a new greenhouse and purchase additional equipment at their community garden at Clayton Community Center.

Gaston County Parks and Recreation:

Gaston County has received grant funds for a mobile demostration kitchen, which will be used to teach seniors how to prepare healthy meals at home.

City of Graham Recreation and Parks:

Graham received grant funds to provide healthier options at their concession stands. From Aaron Davis: "With the help and guidance of BCBSNC Foundation and NCRPA, The City of Graham Recreation and Parks Department is enjoying the process of making a difference in our community. We have purchased the new equipment that will allow the City of Graham to sell healthy items. In addition, we are working on 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 out 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 e-mails 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!"

City of Greensboro Parks and Recreation:

Greensboro has received funds to aid the conversion of an old bus into a mobile food market, which will serve food deserts near local community centers.

City of Greenville Recreation and Parks:

Greenville received grant funds to establish a new garden at Greenfield Terrace Park. From Dennis Vestal: "The grant has truly opened up new activities for our Playground Program. We’ve purchased the kitchen supplies and have planted the garden (corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, okra, bean, peppers, eggplant, cantaloupe watermelon, herbs, and others. Joni Torres, a master gardener from the local Agriculture Extension Office, has been scheduled at the camp many times and she’s been able to teach the kids a tremendous amount about how to plant the vegetables, care of them and proper harvesting techniques. She’s also the garden keep for the community garden at Alice Keene Park, so our kids have been able to take field trips there for lessons and to work in their children’s garden. We’ve also scheduled Lauren Dail, also from the Agriculture Extension Office in the 4H program. Lauren is a Nutrition Program Assistant and she has visited the Playground Program twice most weeks this summer to teach the children about the importance of eating healthy food and shows them how to prepare healthy snacks (which they eat). Many days they are able to have snacks from the food in the garden, but when that’s not possible we are purchasing other items for snacks. We were even able to have a July 4th cookout (held July 3rd). The kids had grilled boneless, skinless chicken breast, salad, a vegetable sauté from the garden and mash potatoes from the garden. Everything was a great hit!

The kids have a new outlook on eating habits and have really enjoyed the fresh foods they’ve been introduced to. The garden is doing very well and the kids are able to take food home to their families to share when there’s more than they can prepare for snacks.

Unfortunately we did have someone vandalize the garden one weekend by ripping up the corn, stepping on the squash plants and smashing melons. Our staff along with Joni were able to turn a negative into a positive by teaching the kids about respecting others property. This truly did impact the kids as you can imagine they have a lot of ownership and pride in the garden. The squash was able to be replanted with the hopes of a second crop and other vegetables were planted where the corn once was."

Town of Indian Trail Parks and Recreation:

Indian Trail is using their grant funds to open their first concession stand, which will serve only healthy snacks and meails. Jason Tryon reports that the equipment is currently being ordered, and the concession stand construction will be complete in the next few weeks

City of Kannapolis Parks and Recreation:

Kannapolis received funds to add 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."

Madison County Parks and Recreation:

Madison County received grant funds for kitchen and portable food storage equipment for their summer feeding program to deliver meals to youth.

Town of Mooresville Parks and Recreation:

Mooresville received funds for equipment to increase healthy eating with the youth that they serve. From Kobeyeh Riley: "As a result of the grant, staff at the Winnie Hooper Center was able to purchase a nutrition education curriculum. Using that curriculum the children have scrutinized nutrition facts from their food intake. During a cooking series with the NC Cooperative Extension, they used information they learned to make better snack and meal choices and learned to prepare those quick snacks and meals."

City of Mount Airy Parks and Recreation:

Mount Airy received funds for new kitchen equipment, which will increase the number of healthy foods they are able to provide in their programs. Darren Lewis reports that A project ordinance is being created and that Lowes Hardware will be ready to proceed once they have the ordinance completed.

City of New Bern Parks and Recreation:

New Bern received grant funds for equipment to establish nutrition classes for their summer camp and afterschool programs. From James Bullock: "The summer nutrition classes are going well. We have about 25 to 35 kids per class with 3 classes remaining for the summer camps. After camp, we will begin the family nutrition classes and demonstrations as well as nutrition and healthy eating classes in our afterschool programs."

Town of Selma Parks and Recreation:

Selma received funds for kitchen equipment at their Harrison Center for Active Aging. From Joe Carter: "The Town of Selma has partnered with Community and Senior Services of Johnston County to open the Harrison Center for Active Aging on 611 West Noble Street in Selma. Thanks in part to the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation Healthy Eating Equipment Grant, the Harrison Center for Active Aging is off to a great start. The Center offers daily meals, arts and crafts, classes and programs, fitness classes, computer lab and exercise room. The participants have enthusiastically embraced the newly renovated facility and are very grateful to how the Center is providing the community so much assistance to living a healthy lifestyle."

City of Thomasville Parks and Recreation:

Thomasville received funds for equipment to create a community garden at Memorial Park. From Beth Farrell: "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."

City of Wilmington Recreation and Downtown Services:

Wilmington is receiving funds to purchase equipment that will increase healthy food access to youth and adults with diabetes in a downtown food desert. They are currently waiting for City Council approval of the grant funds, which will take place in September.

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