Families Activas y Saludables/Families Active and Healthy (FAH) -Starting on Year 2
How to create a culture of healthy eating amid populations identified as high-risk for nutrition-related chronic diseases? PROCEED’s vision for Families Activas y Saludables/Families Active and Healthy rests on a multi-dimensional approach aimed at creating a culture of health/wellness among Latinos, African-Americans , and Haitian families residing in Elizabeth. It requires influencing cultural norms and large-scale behavior change among the target population, embracing a multi-generational approach to change by offering every family/community member the opportunity to participate in their overall well-being. For PROCEED, the strategy rested on creating a school fruit and vegetable garden within the Early Childhood Development Center 1 and the Family Success Center with the aim of spreading awareness of healthy eating, food choices, and growing food.
To spread the momentum on healthy eating, and get ready for Year 2 work, we held a “Healthy Eating Workshop” for the community on March 20th and invited the Community Health Education Consultant from Horizon NJ Health, Iris Novas-Cooney, to provide an interactive session on healthy eating habits and how to shop for healthy items while on a budget. Iris being truly bi-lingual conducted the interactive session in both Spanish and English. With the presenter who is comfortable in both languages, the participants, about fifteen (15) of them, opened up on their eating challenges and asked for strategies on eating well. As community participants are the best “publicity agents,” we utilized the network of the Zumba group participants to get the word out in the community. At this workshop, we provided the participants a snack of fruits and multi-grain bars, and plain water, as opposed to donuts. As a strategy, we have decided to serve healthy foods at the meetings and minimize the intake of sweetened beverages. We also shared the Website of USDA’s-Choosemyplate.gov as a resource for the community, and demonstrated “My Plate” as a guide that food we intake matters. On that note, we started spreading the word on healthy eating to the classrooms as well. Teachers grouped a variety of miscellaneous items to quiz the children as to what they considered as healthy food and unhealthy foods. Interestingly the kids knew that potato chips are unhealthy and apples are healthy. It was a good exercise to reinforce with the kids that eating healthy starts at a young age.
The program is supported by funding from Atlantic Health System as part of the New Jersey Healthy Communities Network.
About the Grantee
PROCEED's mission is to provide and connect people to educational, health and human services; and enhance the capacity of individuals and organizations to offer quality programs and services to their communities locally in NJ, and throughout the United States and its territories.