Keep Your Eye on the Prize…Healthy Food Choices at Recreational Events
As community health advocates, we need to help others survey and change food choices for youth in recreational environments. Take a look at the concession stand at the local baseball or football field, school play, concert, summer camp, or park vendor. Are soda, candy, and junk food snacks prevalent? Are there healthy fruit and vegetable choices? Are the dinner menu items limited to hot dogs and nachos? Is there an absence of fried foods?
With many families and children spending multiple days per week during baseball or football seasons, a diverse choice of healthier foods would better fuel children for sport and overall health. We encourage sports and recreation for the health benefits they provide but our volunteers and staff fail to consider this when serving or selling foods to our active children.
As leaders, we must help develop self-awareness and understanding among camp directors, coaches, parent booster clubs and school administrators and private food vendors. Nationwide obesity rates remain high and we have the power to enhance change by translating our knowledge into policies and practices.
Can we all come to consensus on sugar sweet beverages? Do not serve or sell soda, sports beverages, juice drinks, or sweetened teas. Promote water for hydration. After eliminating sugar sweet beverages, can we convince concessioners to remove candy and high sugar food items from their racks or vending machines? Be a community champion like the leadership at the Raritan valley Y and make this a priority in your community work.
For more on sugar sweet beverages, read http://osnap.org/wp-content/themes/osnap.1.0/tip-sheets/sugarbev.pdf. See how much sugar, which translates into less nutrition, is in our typical concession or vending items.
Try it Out!
Collaborative efforts can go a long way to recognizing and resolving problems. Get your leadership together and be a champion for child health! The Raritan Valley Y and Healthier Middlesex has done just that in championing efforts to reduce youth obesity our county!
About the Grantee
The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. To learn more about the Raritan Valley YMCA programs, health and wellness, visit www.raritanvalleyymca.org or call 732-257-4114. The Y is located at 144 Tices Lane in East Brunswick.