Published by: Cassandra Blohowiak on 3/18/2013 9:43:26 AM
March is National Nutrition Month, an annual nutrition education and information campaign spearheaded by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that highlights how important it is to make informed food choices and develop health eating and exercise habits.
In 2013 – the commemoration’s 40th anniversary – the month’s theme is “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day,” which aims to encourage “personalized healthy eating styles and recognizes that food preferences, lifestyle, cultural and ethnic traditions and health concerns all impact individual food choices.”
Nutrition deficiency contributes to many serious health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes and certain cancers. Many of the low-income populations served by NAPH members do not have access to nutritious food, cannot afford it, or are not aware of the crucial role it plays in their health. To address this health care crisis, NAPH members are finding innovative ways to boost access to and awareness of proper nutrition in the populations they serve.
For example, after discovering that 78 percent of its adult patient population is overweight or obese, Texas-based Harris Health System partnered with local nonprofit Veggie Pals, Inc., to set up fresh produce markets at five of its community health centers in underserved areas. At “Healthy Harvest” markets, customers can buy fresh fruits and vegetables from a selection that caters to their cultural preferences. Market staff also educate patients about the importance of fruit and vegetable consumption and offer recipe tips.
Thus far, the response has been overwhelming: Harris Health already has expanded Healthy Harvest to 11 clinics, each of which serves 50 to 150 customers per week and sells between 200 and 500 pounds of produce per week.
This is just one example of how NAPH hospitals are helping to create healthy communities and increasing access to nutritious foods for their patients. To read more about nutrition programs at NAPH hospitals during National Nutrition Month, visit NAPH’s Innovations webpage.