An exciting aspect of Commit to Health is that NRPA evaluates and measures the effectiveness of the program’s healthy eating and physical activity interventions among participants of summer and afterschool programs in park and recreation sites. This research is critical to understanding the impact the HEPA Standards and the Commit to Health program have on the health of youth all across the country.
Evaluation of the NRPA Increasing Access to Healthy Foods through Innovative Strategies Grant Cohort
This guide is based on research done through funding from the Walmart Foundation to support NRPA's work with 26 park and recreation agencies focused on addressing food insecurity through farmers markets, intergenerational programs, transportation solutions, and out-of-school time programming in urban, suburban, and rural park and recreation agencies across the United States. In collaboration with federally funded OST meal programs, park and recreation agencies can play a key role in increasing access to healthy food and nutrition education. The purpose of this guide is to highlight key strategies that park and recreation agencies can use in the implementation of three innovative program models to increase access to healthy foods — starting or expanding farmers markets or community supported agriculture, starting or expanding intergenerational programming and addressing transportation barriers. NORC at the University of Chicago (NORC), on behalf of NRPA, conducted an evaluation of the 17 innovation cohort grantees to determine the best practices to addressing food access using innovative models.
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Evaluation of the NRPA Healthy Out-of-School Time Grant Rural Cohort
In May 2018, with funding from the Walmart Foundation, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) awarded grant funds to 30 sites to support children’s health through park and recreation out-of-school time programs. The NRPA Healthy Out-of-School Time Grant program included 10 awards to programs in rural communities in Colorado, Kansas, and Mississippi. Grant funds were designated to help park and recreation agencies achieve the goals of the program: increase access to healthy meals served to children; provide evidence-based nutrition literacy to children; and implement nutrition and physical activity standards to create more sustainable programs.
The NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis (NORC), on behalf of NRPA, conducted an evaluation of the 10 2018 rural cohort grantees. The purpose of the evaluation was to answer three primary questions:
- What are the specific program characteristics and models that lead to increased participation in meal service programs in rural communities?
- What does sustainability mean for local park and recreation agencies implementing nutrition programs?
- What key partnerships exist in rural communities to address hunger gaps and access to out-of-school time sites?
In 2019, NRPA will continue this research and work with 10 new rural grantee agencies in Louisiana, New Mexico, and Alabama, along with 17 nationwide grantee agencies.
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Walmart Foundation and NRPA: Partnering to Help Local Park and Recreation Agencies Commit to Health
Across the country, more than 12 million children live in households struggling with hunger. Often, these struggles are the result of food insecurity, or not having reasonable access to affordable, nutritious foods. These same kids face the threat of chronic disease, including obesity and heart disease, due to lack of healthy foods and physical activity opportunities. Kids also often fall victim to unsafe environments during the critical out-of-school time hours – the times in which kids are not in school and may be at home alone while parents work.
Through grant funding, the Walmart Foundation is helping provide meals to those who need them the most, ensuring that children and families can access the nutritious food they need to be healthy. This funding is also helping local and park and recreation agencies provide safe places for kids to spend their out-of-school time, with programming to support healthy eating and physical activity.
See the impact this grant funding had on communities in 2018, and the work NRPA will continue to do in 2019.