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Healthy Kids Community Challenge Spotlight: Making healthy eating possible where children play!

June 6, 2017

Written by: Laura Dias, Public Health Dietitian, Timiskaming Health Unit and Tammy Borgen-Flood, Project Manager,
Healthy Kids Community Challenge City of Temiskaming Shores

Officially launched in April, the Healthy Kids Community Challenge (HKCC) theme 3, ‘choose to boost veggies and fruits’, encourages children and their families to increase their intake of vegetables and fruits. Although much of this behaviour change starts at home, it’s also important to support families  outside the home— in places like schools and sports arenas—where children may spend much of their time.

In this spirit, the HKCC City of Temiskaming Shores aims to increase healthy food options available in two local arenas. This theme 3 pilot project builds off of a theme 2 (‘water does wonders’) activity of assessing the food and beverages options available in local recreation settings.

The first step was to meet with local stakeholders, such as concession operators and parents and families, to gauge readiness and request input for the pilot project. In collaboration with the Temiskaming Health Unit, the HKCC City of Temiskaming Shores is surveying  arena users about their food buying behaviours and preferences and about which healthy options they would be most likely to buy and at what price point.  

In addition to the online version of the survey, the survey was also delivered to the public on our Emergency Preparedness Day (May 13), an event hosted by the City of Temiskaming Shores and attended by parents and children under 12 years old. The main goal of this event was to offer taste tests of the food options included in the survey: fruit smoothies, fresh fruit and veggies, and hummus. In addition, the event also aimed to increase community awareness of the pilot project and encourage completing the paper surveys. The taste test was a success—particularly the smoothies, with a total of 175 cups served!

Photos: left: Two of the many children that attended the event, having fun with Freggie, our veggies and fruit mascot. right: Temiskaming Shores Mayor and Community Champion, Carman Kidd (right) and Councillor McArthur (left) with their favourite options, fresh fruit smoothies.

With this event we were able to collect 37 completed surveys, which will be added to the online responses. Feedback gathered at the Emergency Preparedness Day indicates strong community support for increasing healthy eating options at local arenas.

Next steps will include analyzing the survey results and sharing them with our community and stakeholders, and developing a plan of action to introduce the chosen new food options in the arenas in the fall. Stay tuned!

If you are also looking into working on a similar project, take a look into the recently launched Getting Started with Healthy Eating in Your Recreation Setting, a great resource package resulting from the collaborative effort between the Ontario Society of Nutrition Professionals in Public Health (OSNPPH) and the Nutrition Resource Centre at the Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA).

The HKCC City of Temiskaming Shores would like to thank the NRC for the ongoing and valuable support given to us in this project!


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