Childhood Obesity Calls for a Strong Response
I promised to share some information about what National Relief Charities is doing to help address childhood obesity. NRC has a number of Program Partners working to address this concern. We are committed to helping them build upon their obesity-prevention efforts and implement solutions that they believe will work in their communities. Here are some of the projects that we have underway.
- Canning Station: NRC provided the supplies for a community canning station on the Pine Ridge Reservation. This station brings together community members who have learned how to can and preserve pickles, beets, and other vegetables, and how to create healthy soups that can be canned or dehydrated for later use or sale at the Farmer’s Market, which we also support with tilling, seeds, and other resources.
- Dakota Moves Curriculum: With support from General Mills during the 2011-12 school year, we designed and piloted a culturally relevant program to improve food choices and increase activity levels of students and their families. Our partner was the Crow Creek Head Start in South Dakota. The program had good success in the Crow Creek community. Our Dakota Moves curriculum is now fully developed and available at no charge to other Native Head Start programs.
- Teen Shopping Program: In our service area, young children are frequently responsible for the food shopping. To guide their choices, we have started healthy food demonstrations at grocery stores in parts of our service area. This increases youth exposure to fresh food choices and teaches simple, basic cooking skills. Our aim is to give youth skills and information they can use to improve nutrition for themselves and their families.
- Survival Kit and Cookbook: We recently secured a grant from Cigna to help develop a “survival kit” for children who are responsible for feeding their families. We are developing a cookbook and multimedia materials to help youth develop food-resourcing skills and learn about food shopping, budgeting, and cooking. This project has the attention of Newman’s Own Foundation and Guy Fieri, the Food Network personality. Our survival kit will be available for distribution next year.
- Fresh Produce: In the last three months, NRC has distributed over 50 tons of fresh produce on reservations in the northern Plains, as a part of our commitment to providing healthy, nutritional food to our communities.
- Physical Fitness: We support and continue to seek out opportunities to support events and programs that promote physical fitness and wellness activities on our reservations. This year we have sponsored hundreds of community walks, runs, and exercise events.
It is a fact that disease perpetuates poverty. Our vision of building strong, self-sufficient American Indian communities requires taking this issue seriously. So I want to thank all of you for being a part of helping us address obesity, diabetes, nutrition, and other health issues in Indian country!