The City of Wilmington Community Services Department has received a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation grant in the amount of $4,950 to provide instructive demonstrations and hands-on food preparation using fresh local foods. The programs will begin in June and continue through the school year at the Martin Luther King Community Center and the Davis Center at Maides Park. Youth enrolled in the after school program will learn to prepare healthier snacks using fresh fruits and vegetables. Youth will also plant fruits and vegetables in the King Center’s raised garden plot. Adults with diabetes will receive instruction in the preparation of fresh foods that meet their special dietary requirements. An increased number of distribution points for local foods will increase the opportunities for healthier eating. The need to increase fruit and vegetable consumption and to increase physical activity levels is recommended to prevent and reduce overall overweight and obesity which is identified as a health priority in the 2012 New Hanover County State of the County Health Report. The programs at the City’s community centers will increase consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables as the participants include healthier snacks and meals in their diets.
The North Carolina Recreation and Park Association (NCRPA) has partnered with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) Foundation to provide almost $70,000 in Healthy Eating Equipment grants to sixteen park and recreation departments across the state.
The Community Services Department provides an array of services and activities to youth and adults. "The instruction and demonstrations funded by the BCBSNC Foundation grant will enrich the programs at the King and Davis Centers and fulfill the City’s goal of improving quality of life for our citizens through a variety of educational programs and amenities," said City Manager Sterling Cheatham. "Healthier snacks are a must for children to perform at their best in all activities - physical and mental."
These healthy eating grants align with NCRPA’s Wellness Initiative, which seeks to empower park and recreation agencies in North Carolina to create healthy communities through the development of programs, policies, and infrastructure that support healthy eating and physical activity.
"Partnering with the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation has enabled NCRPA to assist the City of Wilmington Community Services Department with financial and technical resources to promote healthy eating and consumption of local foods," stated Michelle Wells, NCRPA Executive Director. "Providing healthier food choices is a natural component to physical activity opportunities provided by parks and recreation as we move towards the goal of healthier communities."
Health and wellness is an important part of every community. It is recognized on both a state and national level that recreation and park departments play an important role in the health of the community they serve. NCRPA strives to be a leader across the state by helping park and recreation agencies be a catalyst to create healthy communities through the development of programs, policies, and infrastructure that support healthy eating and physical activity.
"The North Carolina Recreation and Park Association is already an important partner in creating healthier places to play and now they are stepping up to provide healthy local foods," said Kathy Higgins, president of the BCBSNC Foundation. "The Healthy Eating Equipment grants are helping the City of Wilmington change policies and start new programs to bring access to healthy foods to their community."
The 16 city and county parks and recreation grantees are:
- Recreation Division of Buncombe County Library, Recreation and Culture – Buncombe County
- Cabarrus County Active Living and Parks Department – Cabarrus County
- Town of Clayton Parks and Recreation Department - Johnston County
- Gaston County Parks and Recreation – Gaston County
- City of Graham Recreation and Parks Department – Alamance County
- City of Greensboro Parks and Recreation – Guilford County
- City of Greenville Recreation and Parks Department – Pitt County
- The Town of Indian Trail Parks and Recreation Department - Union County
- City of Kannapolis Parks and Recreation Department – Cabarrus County
- Madison County Parks and Recreation – Madison County
- Town of Mooresville Parks and Recreation Department – Iredell County
- City of Mount Airy Parks and Recreation Department - Surry County
- City of New Bern Parks and Recreation Department – Craven County
- Town of Selma Parks and Recreation Department – Johnston County
- City of Thomasville Parks and Recreation Department - Davidson County
- City of Wilmington Community Services Department/Recreation and Downtown Services Division – New Hanover County
About the City of Wilmington:
The City of Wilmington provides a full range of quality services that enhances the safety, livability and prosperity of our community. Some of these services are provided through the City’s community centers with recreational activities and other programs for youth and adults. Collaboration with Community Enrichment Initiatives, Inc. and other nonprofits enhances and strengthens the programs at the City’s community centers.
About BCBSNC Foundation:
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation is a separate, independent, nonprofit Foundation dedicated to improving the health and well-being of North Carolinians. The Foundation's focus areas include: Health of Vulnerable Populations - improving health outcomes of populations served by safety net organizations; Healthy Active Communities - increasing physical activity and access to healthy local foods; and Community Impact through Nonprofit Excellence - increasing the effectiveness of nonprofit organizations and their leaders. BCBSNC Foundation invests in programs and services in response to grant requests and proactively creates initiatives or partners with organizations to address specific needs. It also coordinates several Signature Programs, among them, Be Active Kids® and Healthy Community Institute for Nonprofit Excellence. More information is available at www.bcbsncfoundation.org. Since its founding in 2000, the BCBSNC Foundation has invested nearly $90 million into North Carolina communities through more than 720 grants.
About the North Carolina Recreation & Park Association:
Founded in 1944, the North Carolina Recreation & Park Association (NCRPA) is the premier nonprofit education and advocacy organization, dedicated to the advancement of the park, recreation and leisure professions in our state. NCRPA empowers park and recreation professionals and citizen board members through educational opportunities that enhance their ability to change lives and impact communities on a daily basis for the citizens of North Carolina. For an overview of the programs and services offered by the organization, visit www.ncrpa.net.