Thank you, Pittsburgh, for giving residents and visitors safer streets for walking, biking, and increased physical activity!
Karla Case admits she wasn’t always a master chef.
When the dietitian began teaching Wyoming residents how to cook healthy meals from scratch for the Cent$ible Nutrition Program, Case had perhaps five go-to recipes she regularly whipped up.
Seven years later, Case is a professional in the kitchen, showing her students how to buy and prepare dozens of affordable and healthy meals and snacks. Part of the University of Wyoming, the program is designed to help people who are at risk of becoming food insecure learn how to manage food budgets, find healthy food and prepare nutritious meals, often from scratch.
While providing a few budgeting tips helps students, the cooking lessons are what really transforms families’ lives, Case notes.
“Until we actually show them what we are talking about, they aren’t going to learn it,” she says. “Some of them don’t have much experience in the kitchen at all.”
Eating healthy might not always be more expensive, but it does require a lot more effort — especially in low-income communities, which often lack access to a grocery store or other source of fresh, healthy food. In weekly classes, Case and her fellow instructors explain to students how to shop for ingredients and navigate grocery aisles to “get more nutrition for [their] dollar.”
Then the group heads into the kitchen, where Case shows them how to put everything together. They tend to avoid pre-packaged meals, which are often contain unhealthy additives and usually aren’t the cheaper option. “Cooking from scratch is the best way to know where your food comes from,” Case says.
Case says much of her instruction is teaching people to go “back to basics.” She teaches her students, many of them young working mothers with not a ton of free time, to prepare healthier meals in larger quantities that can be frozen and quickly reheated. Many of her recipes use a “master mix” that can be made into a variety of meals.
Along with providing cooking classes, the Cent$ible Nutrition Program is featured regularly on local news outlets, where Case or her colleagues do a demonstration of healthy recipes for viewers. The program also provides demonstrations at schools and in community health centers.
Case says the education that the program provides is just one part of the puzzle needed to reduce obesity, but she says she’s optimistic that progress is being made.
“We’re getting a lot more pathways in our communities, we’re getting more people walking. We had the addition of a farmer’s market,” she says. “We’re seeing a lot of strides… I tend to think we’re seeing an improvement.”
Don't miss the rest of the Inside Track! Click here to find out why two PreventObesity.net Leaders believe a new study shows there's a strong link between food insecurity and obesity. Plus: Get information about an upcoming webinar looking at how health advocates are collaborating online.
Two new complete streets and equity reports have been released and are the result of a project to study equity elements in complete streets policies, the characteristics of communities with equity elements in their policies, and to qualitatively understand how equity elements in complete streets policies are being implemented in practice. Learn more about the reports here.
Eight applicants have been awarded funds that will help young students walk, bike and roll safely to and from school.
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Leaders are people who are actively working - either professionally or as volunteers - to change policies and environments to help children eat better and be more active. We use the following criteria to evaluate whether to approve an applicant for Leader status with the Voices for Healthy Kids Action Center.
Do you meet the criteria below? If so, register as a Leader here. There is no cost to be a Leader.
At least one item must be checked within each of the following two categories:
1. Applicant is focused on changing policies and environments
They are working on one of Voices for Healthy Kid's six issue areas:
Ensure foods and beverages in schools meet dietary guidelines
Expand community access to high quality food
Expand physical activity programs in and out of school
Improve built environment in communities to increase physical activity
Use pricing strategies to promote purchase of healthier foods
Use regulation/policy to reduce youth exposure to unhealthy food marketing
They are working on other obesity-related issues, such as:
Their primary focus is working on individual behavior (e.g., teaching kids about food, play, etc.), but they have access to organizations that could provide opportunities to change environments, such as
Public Health Agencies
Their project is commercial, but contributes positively to changing policies and environments, such as:
2. Applicant is organizing others or contributing to organizing efforts
They are organizing others by:
Providing volunteer opportunities
Building contact lists of supporters to engage in advocacy
They provide support to organizations or leaders doing work changing policies and environments, such as:
They are a leader in a governmental body that may be the target of organizing efforts to change policies and environments, such as a:
Federal or state agency
Mayor or other local executive office
Federal, state, county or local public health department
Federal, state, county or transportation department
Federal, state or local education agency or school board
If the applicant claims to work for an organization, at least one item must be checked below:
3. Applicant works for an organization:
Has an email address that matches the domain of the organization they list
Is listed on the organization website as staff
The Voices for Healthy Kids Action Center is looking for bloggers who can write about issues that matter to our community on a regular basis. If you would like to be considered for this network, please check this box.