Building a Child-Focused Health and Wellness Culture in Northern Michigan
Shape Up North (SUN) is a regional collaborative dedicated to helping our communities achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Coordinated by Munson Medical Center (MMC), the overall goal of this project is to change the culture for elementary school aged children to one of health, wellness and fitness by focusing on children’s’ sphere of influence and creating a positive, supportive influence from the individuals who interact with them most. This project places the child at the center and addresses multiple ways childhood nutrition and wellness can be impacted through schools, families and health care providers. This project is comprised of activities that will take place through non-profit collaborative partners in our community and will focus on impacting schools, families and health care providers to create a positive influence on children’s health, wellness and fitness.
FoodCorps Modeled Programming
We are supporting the integration of farm to school activities and lessons and enhance the ability of schools to provide a healthy school food environment for students. Traverse Bay Intermediate School District (TBAISD) has partnered with FoodCorps, PE-Nut, and SNAP-Ed, but the limitation of these programs to schools where 50% of the student population qualifies for free or reduced lunch creates a gap in services. Funding has been used to hire a consultant Farm to School Coordinator to work within TBAISD, while coordinating closely with Groundwork and MSU-Extension to oversee in-school FoodCorps modeled programs in schools with 25-49% free and reduced lunches.
Food Service Worker Network
Through this collaboration we will be able to affect change in schools by creating a peer to peer food service network for school food service employees, supported by Groundwork and MSUe. Food service directors and staff will be able to share resources and recipes, create connections and foster conversation with other food service staff in the region.
Central Grade School, of Traverse City Area Public Schools, has a kindergarten movement lab, allowing students to have two days of regular physical education and three days of movement lab. During the 2015-16 school year, kindergartners involved in the movement lab all tested above 90% for growth in RIT scores with the highest rate of proficiency ever at Central Grade. Students also tested eight times higher on fitness testing than other comparable TCAPS schools. This project will expand the movement lab to pilot first grade students.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) increases consumption of fresh healthy fruits and vegetables, while supporting the local food system. This project will focus on local employers and provide discounts to employees with children under the age of 18. This is intended to support families of children who are learning about fresh fruits and vegetables at school.
Pop-up School Farmers Markets
We will also host pop up farmer’s markets at schools so families, school staff and children have quick and easy access to fresh produce and fruit and access to talk to farmers about where their food comes from. Additionally, funding would directly benefit teachers in these schools through a Farmers Market voucher program, encouraging them to lead by example and purchase fresh, healthy food.
Health Care Providers
Culinary medicine teaches both cooking and enhanced nutrition counseling skills to healthcare providers by increasing their competencies with food, cooking and nutrition counseling. This emerging approach builds on the evidence of food-focused lifestyle medicine approaches within continuing medical education. Healthcare providers who receive nutrition education combined with chef demos and experiential tastings of simply prepared, healthy and delicious food can more effectively and confidently motivate their patients and families to similarly alter their lifestyles with more health giving eating patterns. Family practice providers, nurse practitioners, case managers and pediatricians will be among those particularly targeted in the new northwest Michigan program, building on the focus of Munson’s fruit and vegetable prescription program. The conference will provide Continuing Medical Education (CME) credit for providers.