New Bern Parks and Recreation Receives Grant from the BCBSNC Foundation

New Bern Parks and Recreation activities

To Increase Access to Healthy, Local Foods

New Bern Parks and Recreation has received a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation grant to help provide the citizens of New Bern access to healthier foods and promote healthy eating habits through healthy eating classes and demonstrations. Our anticipated outcomes are that our participants in our summer and after school programs will replace one unhealthy snack with a healthy snack that they have learned about from healthy food demonstrations 4 times per week for 12 or more weeks, and 10 of 20 family units (approximately 35 people) that participate in a 4-session healthy cooking and eating habits class will prepare 3 healthy meals per week for 4 or more weeks.

Our target population has very limited access to healthy, local food. According the area school data, the schools that serve the youth in our target population have 85% of students that receive free or reduced meals, which is determined by household size and income level. Many of these chldren participate in our programs and frequent our facilities. With this high percentage,these children may not have access to healthy foods and eating habits at home or in their neighborhood.

The North Carolina Recreation and Park Association (NCRPA) has partnered with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) Foundation to provide almost $70,000 in Healthy Eating Equipment grants to sixteen park and recreation departments across the state.

“Partnering with the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation has enabled NCRPA to assist New Bern Parks and Recreation with financial and technical resources to promote healthy eating and consumption of local foods,” stated Michelle Wells, NCRPA Executive Director. “Providing healthier food choices is a natural component to physical activity opportunities provided by parks and recreation as we move towards the goal of healthier communities.”

Health and wellness is an important part of every community. It is recognized on both a state and national level that recreation and park departments play an important role in the health of the community they serve. NCRPA strives to be a leader across the state by helping park and recreation agencies be a catalyst to create healthy communities through the development of programs, policies, and infrastructure that support healthy eating and physical activity

“The North Carolina Recreation and Park Association is already an important partner in creating healthier places to play and now they are stepping up to provide healthy local foods,” said Kathy Higgins, president of the BCBSNC Foundation. “The Healthy Eating Equipment grants are helping New Bern Parks and Recreation change policies and start new programs to bring access to healthy foods to their communities.”

The 16 city and county parks and recreation grantees are:

Recreation Division of Buncombe County Library, Recreation and Culture – Buncombe County

Cabarrus County Active Living and Parks Department – Cabarrus County

Town of Clayton Parks and Recreation Department – Johnston County

Gaston County Parks and Recreation – Gaston County

City of Graham Recreation and Parks Department – Alamance County

City of Greensboro Parks and Recreation – Guilford County

City of Greenville Recreation and Parks Department – Pitt County

The Town of Indian Trail Parks and Recreation Department – Union County

City of Kannapolis Parks and Recreation Department – Cabarrus County

Madison County Parks and Recreation – Madison County

Town of Mooresville Parks and Recreation Department – Iredell County

City of Mount Airy Parks and Recreation Department – Surry County

City of New Bern Parks and Recreation Department – Craven County

Town of Selma Parks and Recreation Department – Johnston County

City of Thomasville Parks and Recreation Department – Davidson County

City of Wilmington Recreation and Downtown Services Department– New Hanover County

New Bern Parks and Recreation Department’s mission is to provide a variety of affordable leisure opportunities, both directed and self-directed, that encourages citizens and visitors to improve their mental, social, and physical well-being. From arts and crafts and water related activities, to road races and playgrounds, to movies in the parks and music in the parks, to fireworks on the 4th of July, NBPRD has something for almost everyone to do and experience.

You will find community resources, such as picnic pavilions, boat launches, fishing piers, recreation centers, and “The Gazebo”. We are proud and thankful, of the numerous partnerships that provide “Community Events” throughout the year. Sign up, register, or “volunteer” for a variety of possibilities… coaching, playing, instruction, or participating. Whether you like the outdoor environment, like “Kidsville Community Playground”, an indoor facility, getting wet at the “New Bern Aquatics Center”, or a good sweat in a gym, our aim is to provide you with the opportunity. Please feel free to contact us with your program ideas and requests.

Submitted by: Nancy Donahue, New Bern Parks and Recreation