Chicago Park District receives $80k grant to help develop community nutrition hubs

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CHICAGO — The Chicago Park District has received a $80,000 grant to develop community nutrition hubs across the city.

It’s part of a $2.5 million grant the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) received from the Walmart Foundation to develop nutrition hubs across the country.

The grant will support the park district’s efforts to increase access to healthy foods, nutrition education and wellness opportunities through established connections with Chicago agencies serving food, including Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Greater Food Depository

One in five children and older adults experience the daily struggle of food insecurity. More specifically, four out of 10 Black and Latino households with children report being food insecure, according to a recent Northwestern University study.

“We are excited to bring more nutrition education and meals to our Chicago communities,” said Chicago Park District CEO, General Superintendent & Director of the NRPA Board of Directors, Michael P. Kelly. “Chicago parks are hubs of opportunities for activity, nutrition, recreation, and healthy lifestyles.”

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 four strategies:

  • Increase access to healthy foods in low income areas through federally funded nutrition programs through parks and partners;
  • Implement diverse models as well as analyze and share best practices for parks and recreation to serve as nutrition hubs, including screening for food insecurity and providing SNAP/WIC enrollment and retention assistance, establishing referral systems, hosting farmers markets and accepting benefits, and offering intergenerational health literacy and meal programs;
  • Provide evidence-based nutrition literacy resources that will reduce food insecurity and create behavior change, including increased consumption and preparation of fruits and vegetables and increase confidence in healthy decision-making; and
  • Disseminate information about healthy meals and access to food through our established communication outlets.

To learn more about the program, click here.

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