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Gimme Five: Joan Enderle



Interviewee Name: Joan Enderle

Title: Regional Campaign Team Lead

Organization: American Heart Association

Meet Joan Enderle, a registered dietician, and the campaign team lead for ANCHOR in the Midwest. Joan’s role in ANCHOR focuses on making healthy eating the easy choice, and increasing access to healthy food and beverages.

ANCHOR, or Accelerating National Community Health Outcomes through Reinforcing Partnerships, is a community capacity building project funded by the CDC's National Implementation and Dissemination for Chronic Disease Prevention initiative. The American Heart Association is working in 15 markets around the country to mobilize key stakeholders and partners to protect people from tobacco smoke through smoke-free environment initiatives, improve access to healthy, nutritious food where people live, learn, work, and play, and encourage increased physical activity through shared use agreements and support of physical education in schools. 

Joan works with child nutrition and daycares, to increase the number of fruits and vegetables while lowering sodium in the diets of the children by having the daycare providers purchase low sodium foods. She also recruits and engages large employers, inviting them to consider implementation using the sodium toolkit  and lowering sodium in their foods. Joan also works to improve access to healthy foods in government owned buildings, encouraging them to provide healthy food options on site and in their vending machines. She is currently exploring increased and healthier vending options, working with the cafeteria that is in state capitol building in Bismarck, North Dakota.

What inspired you to start working on childhood obesity?

I have been involved in childhood obesity prevention since my career began 33 years ago I believe that prevention and healthy eating habits start at birth. What you eat when you're young stays with you the rest of your life. I have a real passion about having healthy, happy kids. Part of kids being successful, is physical activity. It is easier to prevent health issues than treat them. My goal growing up was to work in school nutrition. I've taught prenatal classes, and teach parents to be healthy examples. I have always been into influencing other parents. When I was involved in the PTA at my children’s school, I made sure that the meals at the meetings were healthy. I helped change choices at the hockey concessions stand to healthier options. It has always been my mission to help create a healthier atmosphere, and part of my life since I started my career.

How are you helping to reverse childhood obesity?

I encourage others to eat more fruits and vegetables, lower sodium foods, through my work.

What’s your biggest accomplishment so far in helping reduce childhood obesity?

Providing healthier choices at concession stands run by local booster clubs. I worked with the booster clubs to not only offer healthier choices but to encourage healthy choices by putting the fresh fruit and healthier choices on the counter and moving the candy to the back counter. I ask parents to donate fruit instead of cookies to sell.  

What do you look forward to most about your job?

I am excited about the potential impact and wide reach. Not only does my job help improve the lives of the children who will be impacted by these decisions and changes, but these children being impacted in the short term have the potential to have a long term impact because of healthier preferences. I am looking forward to these practices in daycares becoming routine, and second nature in the years to come. Because of the communication with the parents, that it will go beyond what is happening in the daycare, that parents will become engaged, excited, and will do it in the home also.

What healthy snacks did you enjoy growing up?

I love strawberries and cucumbers—but not together. Those were both things that we grew in our garden. We had an abundance of them in our garden, and they are still two of my favorite foods.

Each week, our own Amy Stone speaks with a Leader to get a quick look at why he or she loves working to create healthy environments for kids. Want to take part? Visit Amy's profile and contact her.