Increased Access to Healthy Foods is Overall Goal of Work Group
Date Published: 05/17/17 04:53:pm
The Healthy Foods work group encourages access to healthy foods in Reno County, and the group often works alongside our county’s Food Policy Council. Fourteen members strong, the Healthy Foods work group lists as its priorities:
Encouraging community gardens in Reno County neighborhoods
Expanding the ability to use Federally Funded Food Assistance at local markets
Hosting a healthy foods festival; promoting local foods
Educating and encouraging food retailers to sign the Pathways to a Healthy Foods Pledge
Educating and encouraging restaurants to complete a restaurant assessment, adopt healthy strategies and sign the Pathways to a Healthy Restaurant Pledge
While all on the list are important and of interest to the work group members, recent focus has been on identifying restaurants that are ready and willing to sign pledges as part of Reno County’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield Pathways to a Healthy Kansas grant-funded work. By signing a pledge, restaurants agree to take an assessment and then adopt the assessment recommendations.
Recommendations for restaurants might include improving the walking and biking access to the restaurant through better sidewalk connectivity and bike racks, creating a healthy catering or take-out menu to share with local businesses who are also participating in the Pathways pledges through their worksite wellness programs, and making other changes that encourage healthier eating for all customers.
Recently, Cara’s, a restaurant in Arlington, signed a pledge. By working to adopt the recommendations determined from the assessment, Cara’s will be eligible for an Achievement Grant of up to $5,000 to go toward energy efficiency or façade improvements. Other restaurants who sign pledges are also eligible for these grants while funds last. If you know of a restaurant that is ready to take steps toward making healthy food choices more accessible to Reno County residents, please direct them to Heal Reno County’s Healthy Foods Work Group Chair Megan Gottschalk-Hammersmith at Healthyfoods@healrenocounty.org.
In other work, the Food Policy Council recently conducted a survey asking western Reno County residents and South Hutchinson residents if they would utilize a Mobile Grocery Market. The Council received 148 completed surveys expressing interest in the market. Currently, the Food Policy Council is looking for community champions from each community the market will visit on a weekly basis. A business plan has been drafted and is being reviewed, and after it is completed, members of the Food Policy Council will apply for grant funding to purchase a truck and trailer for conversion to a mobile market.
If this work toward systems and policy change along with other food access projects and promotions is of interest to you, please let Heal Reno County know, so we can help you get involved. We’d love to have you join us in this important work.