Progress is never easy but it is always a worthy cause to fight for. LiveWell Chaffee County is one of twenty two communities funded by LiveWell Colorado, a nonprofit organization committed to reducing obesity by promoting healthy eating and active living. In addition to educating and inspiring people to make healthy choices, LiveWell Colorado focuses on policy, environmental and lifestyle changes that remove barriers and increase access to healthy behaviors. LiveWell aims to provide every Coloradan with access to healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity in the places they live, work, learn and play. In 2012, LiveWell Chaffee County and its partners made great and successful strides for the people of Chaffee County.
The Salida Schools Garden located on Holman Avenue began as a large, unused grass field across from the Dog Park; but through the collaborative efforts of LiveWell Chaffee County, the Salida School District, Guidestone, Southwest Conservation Corps and amazing community volunteers over the summer of 2012, this space provided over 390 pounds of total produce, of which 262 pounds went into the Salida School lunch program.
The Summer Food Service Program was another huge success, serving 3,639 healthy lunches to Chaffee County children throughout the summer at the Boys and Girls Club. Partnerss included the Boys & Girls Club of Chaffee County, Amicas, LiveWell Chaffee County, and Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado.
Meals from scratch, like the ones served at the Summer Food Service Program, are being made in both Salida and Buena Vista schools thanks to the policy and implementation work of LiveWell Chaffee County. In Buena Vista, the Avery-Parson Hoop House is in its second year of production, providing over 130 pounds of fresh produce for the 2012 school lunch program. Additionally in 2012, positive, significant changes in the healthiness of food offerings occurred in an increasing shift towards whole grains, a decrease in ‘fast food classics’ and an increase in the number of different fruits and vegetables offered. In Salida, the new Food Service Director, Danny Quinto, worked with LiveWell Chaffee County throughout the summer and fall to bring fresh produce from the new garden into the school lunch program. With his influence, LiveWell Chaffee County plans to significantly increase the number of healthy fruit and vegetable options, whole grains, and scratch cooking over the next two years. As of September 2012, he has implemented the expansion of the salad and fruit bars at all three district schools, increased scratch cooking and the use of local ingredients.
Many children came home from school to find their parents had been influenced and educated in the ways of scratch cooking, use of local foods, and who learned to make healthy affordable choices at the supermarket through Share Our Strength’s Shopping Matters Program. 25 families participated in the program facilitated by LWCC staff and a registered, local dietitian. The tours were conducted at Wal-Mart, Safeway and City Market in Buena Vista, where participants practiced key food shopping skills like buying fruits and vegetables on a budget, comparing unit prices, reading food labels, and identifying whole grain foods.
In addition, LiveWell Chaffee County made many strides in 2012 increasing access to physical activity through on-street bike improvements that impacted over 3500 parents and children throughout Chaffee County. 1,400 Safe Routes to School maps were distributed to all Elementary and Middle School students in Buena Vista and Salida to bring awareness of safer routes and available lanes for both parent and student transportation use.
Buena Vista held their first annual Bike Rodeo event with the assistance of The Town of Buena Vista Police Department, The Trailhead, LiveWell Chaffee County and Avery Parsons staff and over eighty 4th grade students learned to navigate roads safely and with technical skill. Fourth graders at Longfellow Elementary continued participation in their annual Ride Right Cycle Safe event in collaboration with the fire and police department, Monarch Community Outreach and Absolute Bikes. Kids practiced safety skills and bike handling techniques, and received free helmets.
LiveWell Chaffee County is wrapping up the implementation phase of their programming and will hold their first sustainability planning meeting on Wednesday, February 27th at 4:30pm in the Mt. Shavano Room of the Touber Building. If you would like to join us as we plan for the next step in our program, please contact Lisa Malde, Director of LiveWell Chaffee County, p: (719) 530-2569 or e: email@example.com