New We Can!® City Works With Partners to Change Local Food Policy
Posted October 5‚ 2010
In 2007, 100 public health professionals, nutritionists, teachers, and pediatricians convened at the Southeast Georgia Childhood Obesity Taskforce with one goal in mind: to plan ways the community could help children and adults adopt healthy eating and physical activity habits.
The result of the meeting was the creation of a coalition, named Satilla KIDS, which meets regularly to raise awareness for the issue of childhood obesity and the importance of healthy lifestyles in the area. Through local partnerships, events, and now We Can!, Satilla KIDS is helping to ensure families and community residents receive messages, resources, and education on how to maintain a healthy weight.
Since joining the We Can! County program in May 2010, Satilla KIDS and their local partners are making significant strides in the community, including changing policy around what is served to kids at the YMCA's afterschool and childcare programs.
"In my opinion, this is the most important thing we have done so far," said Gail Seifert, Executive Director of the Satilla Health Foundation.
The policy change ensures that children are served nutritious meals and snacks of a quantity and quality to meet their daily nutritional needs. For example, breakfast served to youth must consist of at least three different food groups; lunch and dinner must consist of four different food groups; and snacks must consist of at least two different food groups. Moreover, at events where food is served, the YMCA is committed to including healthy options such as low-fat dairy products, fruits and vegetables, and foods made from whole grains.
In addition to influencing local nutritional policy, Satilla KIDS is also involved in We Can! events and curricula. The organization kicked off its involvement in We Can! with the YMCA's Healthy Kids Day, where Satilla hosted We Can! games and offered activities such as Zumba®, basketball, and a hula hoop contest, to the 200-plus attendees.
Satilla KIDS is also collaborating with the local school district to work with third graders on the importance of We Can!'s three core behavior goals: eating healthy, staying active, and reducing screen time. However, students are not the only crowd Satilla is targeting in the schools! The organization is also sending information—for parents and caregivers—home with the kids, including letters with information on how to keep their kids healthy, information on the We Can! program, and a link to the We Can! website.
The accomplishments of Satilla KIDS and Waycross County are not without help from other organizations and community members. Seifert credits partnerships formed throughout the community to the organization's successes in food policy change and program implementation. "Collaboration is key," said Seifert.