McLennan County participates in nationwide healthy challenge - KXXV Central Texas News Now

McLennan County participates in nationwide healthy challenge

Source: KXXV Source: KXXV

McLennan County is one of the 50 communities participating in a nationwide challenge to increase healthy eating in the area.

In order to win the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge, communities have to show measurable change in the health domain they selected from Oct. 1, 2016 until Oct. of 2018. The Waco-McLennan County Health District chose to focus on increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Some of the initiatives to make that a reality include adding more locations for the Veggie Van, which is a mobile food market that currently goes to 11 locations in Waco throughout the week.

Baylor Scott & White Medical Center-Hillcrest is one of the locations where fruits and vegetables are sold every week.

Baylor Scott & White Director of Guest Services and Volunteer Services Emily Embry, who shops from the Veggie Van at least once a month, said they supply great fresh produce.

On Wednesday morning, she shopped at the Veggie Van for pecans.   

"Being in healthcare, we always try to encourage each other to eat healthy. This is a great way to do it. Now they have snacks that I can munch on rather than getting chips in the cafeteria and it is for a great cause,” Embry said.

World Hunger Relief Executive Director Matt Hess, whose organization runs the Veggie Van, said their participation in the HealthyCommunity50 was a natural fit.

“We've got an opportunity to share what we have learned over the last few years of school gardening, veggie vanning and then offer that to the community to really see us make an even bigger and broader impact in the way people in Waco eat and live,” Hess said.

In addition, the Health District plans to support the opening of the Jubilee Food Market and offer monthly cooking demonstrations at the Farmers Market. Furthermore, they will offer healthy Soul food and Tex-Mex demonstrations at community centers and churches.

Waco-McLennan County Health District’s Health Education Specialist Lead Courtney Wollard said the goal of the challenge is primarily to promote the programs that are currently in place in the area.

"There are so many great projects addressing healthy eating and we want the community to be aware of them,” Wollard said.

She said the health district will measure the change of healthy habits by comparing data from the 2013 Health Needs Assessments and surveys from 2015 and 2016 to future surveys. In addition, Wollard said they will keep track the number of people who went to the Jubilee Food Market, Veggie Van and the cooking demonstrations. 

The programs will not be competing against each other and judged on their own progress.

According to the Waco-McLennan County Health District, based on their community tier, the prize will be awarded at the end of the challenge. One of them will receive $250,000 and four will receive $25,000. 

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