HHCC board lays out possible healthy eating goals for 2017
BY BRYCE KELLY
Mt. Pleasant News
Healthy Henry County Communities (HHCC) is looking to further their efforts to make Henry County a more healthy community, and on Tuesday, the HHCC board decided to sink their teeth into talks of furthering nutritious eating.
Among the many areas of healthy living that HHCC regularly tries to encourage within the county is healthy eating, which is why the group has formed a committee made up of HHCC board members and local citizens to discuss and implement healthy eating programs and initiatives throughout the county.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Kelly Carr, HHCC coordinator, discussed the committee’s progress and challenged the HHCC board to come up with ways to continue the progress being made.
Thus far, according to Carr’s report, the healthy eating committee has worked to certify nine county food establishments in the Your Plate, Your Health program; worked with vendors at both the Henry County Fair and Midwest Old Threshers to offer a variety of healthy food options during those events; organized monthly community wellness workshops at the Fellowship Cup, in Mt. Pleasant; and has helped to implement Hy-Vee grocery deliveries to residents in Winfield.
“I think all this shows that we are making good progress in promoting healthy eating and trying to eliminate food insecurity in the county,” said Carr. “But I think our job is to look also at things that we still feel are needs in the county as it relates to food and nutrition.”
According to a recent health needs assessment, Henry County identified obesity as a top health concern for the county overall. In addition, food deserts and food insecurity were also pinpointed as health-related issues in the county.
After assessing the health needs assessment, Carr says there are several stalled nutrition goals that HHCC had started working on in the past that for one reason or another were never worked out to completion. These goals included expanding community gardens, working with Iowa Wesleyan University to further promote healthy eating on campus, teaching healthy eating and cooking ideas during major food distributions at the Fellowship Cup, and working with local schools to promote healthy food options at concession stands during extracurricular events.
“Looking at these stalled goals, I think a lot of them play into what the health needs assessment identified as issues related to nutrition,” Carr suggested. “Perhaps it’s time that we maybe look into these a little further again.”
Overall, the board agreed that these projects would be good to revisit in order to see what progress can be made. However, getting to the root issues of healthy eating were also heavily discussed, with many board members insisting that making healthy options available to locals will only work to its full potential when people recognize the need to live a more healthy, nutritional lifestyle.
“One of the keys to all this is changing the way that people think about eating healthy,” said board member and dietician, Elise Klopfenstein, adding eating healthy and exercising isn’t always looked at as an attractive task. “You have to change people’s minds before you change their actions. Nobody can force someone to eat healthy. It has to be a choice.”
Klopfenstein added that while healthy eating isn’t always instantly gratifying, it can have many positive long-term effects.
The HHCC board agreed with Klopfenstein, with board member and Fellowship Director, Ken Brown, saying that he also believes people like the idea of eating healthy, but don’t always know how to change their lifestyle to become a more nutritious eater. In addition, Brown cited financial concerns and convenience as major hurdles for many when it comes to eating healthy.
Moving forward, the board felt that slightly shifting some of their focus to dial in on local youth and children in regards to healthy eating might be a wise idea so as to help shape healthy eating habits at a younger age.
Carr ended the board’s discussion on the topic saying the healthy eating committee would revisit some of the board’s stalled goals, and also look at setting plans to implement healthy eating programs or activities that are geared more toward Henry County youth.
The HHCC board will meet again on March 7, 2017, at 1 p.m., at the Henry County Health Center Health Education Center.