EAST ORANGE, NJ – The City of East Orange, in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), has received a $30,000 grant to increase access to healthy foods through park and recreation programs. The gift is part of a $1.5 million grant NRPA received from the Walmart Foundation to increase access to healthy foods in park and recreation agencies across the country.
East Orange Recreation’s grant will help increase access to healthy foods and improve opportunities for physical activity through nutrition literacy activities, sponsoring a Summer Food Feeding Site and offering “Taste Test Tuesdays,” all at the East Orange Farmers Market. East Orange Recreation Food Services will also receive additional support for meals provided through USDA afterschool and summer feeding programs as well as nutritional literacy materials to help ensure lifelong healthy habits for East Orange’s youth.
Local park and recreation agencies are community health and wellness hubs. For decades, parks and recreation have been one of the largest providers of healthy meals to children in low-income communities through the USDA child nutrition programs, working to address hunger, provide nutrition education, and keep youth safe and engaged during out-of-school times. Building upon this strong foundation and the existing strengths of local park and recreation agencies, NRPA seeks to expand the role and capacity of local parks and recreation to improve food access across diverse communities and generations by piloting and evaluating three innovation strategies:
1. Starting or expanding farmers markets and/or community supported agriculture (CSA) programs at P&R sites to increase access to healthy, fresh, and local produce;
2. Starting or expanding intergenerational meal programs that address the nutritional needs of vulnerable youth and seniors, and foster opportunities for nutrition education, mentorship and social engagement for youth and seniors; and
3. Addressing transportation and infrastructure barriers in communities by piloting models that leverage existing resources and assets, building partnerships, and utilizing volunteers or innovative systems to transport kids to sites.
According to Share our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign, 1 in 6 kids across the country struggle with hunger every day. During the school year, over 21 million low-income children receive free or reduced meals to help them meet their daily nutrition needs, but only 3 million of these children receive these meals during the summer. During summer months, these children may not have access to quality and healthy food to help them grow — making East Orange Recreation Food Services’ work during out-of-school times that much more critical.
“NRPA is thankful for our partnership with the Walmart Foundation to support local park and recreation agencies who make health and wellness a priority in the communities they serve — especially during out-of-school time,” said Kellie May, NRPA Vice President of Programs. “Parks and recreation are proving their critical role in the health of their communities and we can’t wait to see the impact this year’s grants will have on fostering lifelong healthy habits in children across the country.”
The City of East Orange is committed to providing options to help our residents, and especially our young people, lead healthier lives.
“Thank you to the NRPA and the Walmart Foundation for partnering with us and providing this $30,000 grant to provide access to healthy foods in our parks and recreation programs,” said Mayor Ted R. Green. “The earlier we educate our children about living healthier lifestyles, the greater our opportunities are to address and reduce epidemics such as obesity and diabetes that have disproportionately affected our communities.”
To learn more about Commit to Health, visit www.nrpa.org/committohealth.
About the National Recreation and Park Association
The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all Americans have access to parks and recreation for health, conservation and social equity. Through its network of 60,000 recreation and park professionals and advocates, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit www.nrpa.org. For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks and Recreation, visit www.parksandrecreation.org.