Northwest Colorado Food Coalition: For LiveWell work, a 9-year wrap
January 1, 2018
This is the time of year we look back on the past and consider the opportunities to take in the New Year. I have had the great privilege of serving with LiveWell Northwest Colorado (NWCO), which is now the Northwest Colorado Food Coalition, and I am taking this opportunity to close out our LiveWell NWCO work by celebrating the successful collaborations and achievements created over the last nine years.
Remember the community healthy lifestyle campaign 5210? A little refresher about the meaning of 5210: 5 is a reminder to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day; 2 reminds us to engage in no more than two hours of recreational screen time each day; 1 represents a reminder to get at least one hour of physical activity for children (30 minutes for adults) each day; and 0 reminds us to drink no sugar-sweetened beverages each day. These lifestyle goals of 5210 remain valuable for families trying to improve their health.
How does eating five servings of fruits and vegetables benefit our community? We have about 3,000 residents (900 children) that do not have enough food to eat. Since on average our food costs in Routt County are 30% higher than the rest of the state, it has been a goal of our work to increase the number of servings of fruits and vegetables that all our children and low-income residents eat each day.
How did we address the 5? Thanks to the Nutrition Services directors at the three school districts, LiftUp of Routt County, Community Ag Alliance, CSU Extension, after-school/summer programs, community residents and you for your donations and/or participation in these programs, we have seen increased fruit and vegetable consumption in the community because of these LiveWell NWCO initiatives:
- Healthy eating campaigns (e.g., GO, SLOW, WHOA) that included using the cafeteria as a learning lab with fruit and vegetable taste testings in each of the three school districts.
- Healthy snacks/meals for over 500 children through LiftUp's Rocket Pack program.
- Created the only summer meal program in Routt County at the Hayden School District.
- Increased the fruits and vegetables freely available for LiftUp clients by over 700% through grow a row, ProDo, and adopt-a-shelf projects.
- Online farmers' market where you can support our local ag by purchasing fresh local products (caamarket.org).
- Built an active, thriving Northwest Colorado Food Coalition that continues to collaboratively address county-wide food system issues.
How did we address the recommendation for no more than two hours of screen time each day? We found that the amount of recreational screen time was not identified as a "huge" issue in our county, so our focus was primarily promoting awareness.
How did we promote one hour of physical activity per day in children? We know the impact that physical activity has on activating the brain and improving health and are grateful for the opportunity to change the recreational landscape throughout the county with our partners. We were successful in adding more free physical activity opportunities in our community which can increase physical activity for both adults and children.
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- Thanks to the Hayden School District, we received funding for a new elementary school playground and revamped a storage room at the high school to become a gym with classes that both students and community members use.
- Thanks to the SOROCO School District, we upgraded their elementary school playground and built a completely new play area at the middle/high school campus.
- At the three school districts, we introduced action-based learning — an enormous "thank you" to the PE teachers who helped get funding for a new PE curriculum and equipment.
- Working with the Town of Hayden, we funded a disc golf course.
- We are extremely proud of our wonderful collaboration with the Town of Oak Creek, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps and South Routt residents. Working together we built four trails, a new pump track park, revitalized Decker Park, funded an afterschool/summer youth activity program with 60-plus kids enrolled, and created a long-term plan to maintain recreational facilities.
- Thank you to the City of Steamboat Springs and Routt County for helping us to install wayfinding signage throughout the county to identify trails and distances to local attractions; for adding a sidewalk to connect the bus stop with the Lincoln Park upgrades; for adding onto the Core Trail; and providing a trail from Gloria Gossard Parkway to the west side of town.
How did we promote consuming zero sugary beverages? Well, I must say this is the one area where we received a lot of student groans. Sugary beverages were removed from the schools and water bottle filling stations were installed. Students are drinking more water.
- Thank you to the Steamboat Springs Park and Recreation Department and the three school districts for working with us to install bottle filling stations throughout the county.
- Thank you to Hayden/SOROCO School Wellness Coordinator Kristi Brown for her amazing efforts in the schools.
Routt County has a rich history of community partners working together and over the last nine years, the LiveWell NWCO Coalition and Northwest Colorado Food Coalition have worked diligently to create healthy eating and active living opportunities for the under-resourced throughout Routt County. As this LiveWell community investment comes to a close, I thank each and every one of you who has made a difference to change the culture of healthy eating and active living in Routt County.
To learn more about the ongoing work of the Northwest Colorado Food Coalition or to get involved, contact Michele Meyer at email@example.com or check out the websites communityagalliance.org and routt.extension.colostate.edu.
Barb Parnell is LiveWell NWCO coordinator and a member of the Northwest Colorado Food Coalition.