PreventObesity.net Leader and social media maven Casey Hinds is expanding her efforts to spread the word about creating healthier food environments.
Hinds recently launched the blog KY Healthy Kids, where she shares her insights on the childhood obesity movement along with thoughts on ways to make sure kids eat healthy, especially at school.
The blog is part of Hinds’ ongoing crusade to improve environments in her home state of Kentucky, where she has served on local wellness councils and the PTA at her daughters’ school. Hinds tells the Inside Track that she was inspired to launch the blog after becoming active on social media websites such as Twitter — and finding that she wanted a little more room to share her thoughts.
“You can only do so much with 140 characters,” Hinds says. “Part of the blogging was to be able to include more information, rather than just what you can get into a tweet.”
Hinds is an active Leader in the national childhood obesity movement —Inside Track readers may recall she signed a PreventObesity.net campaign email in 2012 asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to release updated nutrition standards for school snacks and drinks. (Related note: The USDA released proposed standards in February; tell the agency you support those standards by clicking here.)
But Hinds got her start in her hometown, where she leads efforts to improve the local school environment. She’s currently the vice president of the PTA chapter at her daughters’ school, and in recent months has worked to bring a number of healthy activities to the campus, including a 5K race and jog-a-thon.
In addition, her PTA group is working with the cafeteria to find ways to promote efforts encouraging kids to eat fruits and vegetables. For example, “Tasty Tuesdays” have the children try new foods such as carrots and hummus, or blueberries.
Hinds also is overseeing efforts to bring healthier fundraisers to the campus, including one named “March Madness” after the college basketball tournament. Throughout March, students will sell tickets that enter them into a PTA-sponsored raffle. The PTA is giving out prizes each day, including a gym membership, one-hour massage, free yoga class, gift certificate for a photography session and even the opportunity to draft a will for free.
“As you know, basketball is a big thing in Kentucky, so we’re hoping to tie into that enthusiasm,” Hinds says.
A former military aircraft commander, Hinds first got involved on school nutrition issues at her daughters’ elementary school. When her eldest was born, her pediatrician recommended that her family develop healthy eating habits due to a family history of diabetes. But when Hinds’ daughter got to kindergarten, she discovered many of the healthy habits she was trying to instill weren’t reinforced at school. Food was used a reward for good behavior, for example.
So Hinds took action. She met with her daughter’s teacher, principal and the PTA, and spoke at school board meetings to raise awareness about the unhealthy practices on campus. Hinds joined the Coordinated School Health Advisory Committee, which works on promoting health initiatives and wellness programs on campus. Eventually, the school implemented an improved wellness policy.
Hinds’ daughters are now 11 and 9. She says she’s optimistic that things are heading in the right direction, noting that the paradigm has started to shift.
“From when I started a few years ago, conversations about food and sugar addiction, food marketing to children, emotional eating, the hunger and obesity connection, etc., have moved from the fringe to the more mainstream,” Hinds says. “I expect this to continue to grow exponentially and we’ll see real changes when that happens.”