Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

July 2018

Grant to Boost Meals & Nutrition for Kids

By Dave Ramont

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all Americans have access to parks and recreation for health, conservation and social equity. Through their Commit to Health initiative, they also work to increase access to healthy foods and nutrition education. And now, the Walmart Foundation has awarded the association a $1.5 million grant to increase the number of meals served to youths through this initiative.

The grant money will assist 10 rural agencies in Colorado, Mississippi and Kansas by providing assets to help them improve health outcomes and by providing insight into the challenges they face in providing meals and services to kids. Funding will also be received by 21 non-rural cities in states that include Massachusetts, Connecticut, California, Washington, Colorado, New York, New Jersey, Arizona, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Kansas, Utah and Virginia.

One of the goals of the grant money is to increase the number of healthy meals that kids receive during out-of-school times through three different programs: the Summer Food Service Program, the National School Lunch Program, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program.

Another goal is to implement healthy living practices and policies aligned with evidence-based healthy eating and physical activity. The third goal is to provide evidence-based nutrition literacy to children and families that creates behavior change, including increased consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Funding will be used to promote activities like nutrition education, community gardening and more. It will also be used for meal service equipment, marketing, staffing, transportation, family engagement and healthy living opportunities. These year-long grants will also help grantees to carry on their work in the future by providing opportunities for networking, collaboration, technical assistance and training.

Funding from the Walmart Foundation has helped park and recreation agencies serve 85 million meals to 4.5 million kids since 2010 at thousands of meal sites in over 300 cities nationwide. Programs implementing the Healthy Eating, Physical Activity (HEPA) standards have also benefitted kids, helping them get access to healthier ways of living.

Eileen Hyde is the director of hunger and healthy eating at the Walmart Foundation, and she said they’re passionate about ensuring children and families have access to food when they need it most. “The focus this program puts on out-of-school time food programs and the promotion of nutrition education at meal sites is critical for ensuring our children enjoy ready access to healthier, nutritious food,” she said.

“NRPA is thankful for our partnership with the Walmart Foundation to support local park and recreation agencies who make health and wellness a priority in the communities they serve, especially during out-of-school time,” said NRPA Director of Health and Wellness Kellie May. “We look forward to the continued success of this nationwide effort in helping children access healthy food and lead a healthier lifestyle.”

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