Community centers are on the front lines of addressing the obesity crisis, helping to initiate solutions to change physical activity behaviors and dietary choices. They play an important role in public health intervention and disease prevention.
The Winner and Honorable Mentions for the 2011 ARAMARK Building Community Innovation Award for Wellness and Nutrition are programs that apply new approaches to help individuals and families eat better and live healthier lifestyles. Judges looked for demonstrated success in changing eating, cooking and shopping behaviors, reducing personal weight, and/or improving overall health. Applicants in the Wellness and Nutrition category demonstrated the critical and impactful role community centers are playing in meeting the varying and complex health needs of families in need.
Gary Comer Youth Center (GCYC)
Farm to Table Program
Since 2006, GCYC has served youth and teens with out-of-school time activities in athletics, performing and visual arts, computers, tutoring, job training, gardening, culinary arts, and academics. The Youth Center’s “Farm to Table” program includes urban farming programs, culinary and nutrition education, and youth-led entrepreneurial activities to promote local food production, increase healthful eating and physical activities, and improve health literacy.
Situated in Greater Grand Crossing, a low-income Chicago neighborhood with above average rates of obesity-related illnesses, GCYC’s innovative program is uniquely positioned to help youth and their families live healthier and more productive lives, reduce the risk factors that lead to these illnesses, and contribute to the livelihood of community members and local businesses.
At its 80,000 square foot modern facility, GCYC staff and partner agencies, including the Greater Chicago Food Depository (GCFD) and ACCESS Community Health Network, educate youth and families about health and wellness through the following programs:
An exciting feature of GCYC’s project is the “Green Teens” program which educates youth about local food production through planting and harvesting produce in the GCYC rooftop garden, teaching them how to cook healthy meals for themselves and their families using food from the garden, and preparing them through entrepreneurial activities such as selling the produce to local restaurants and community members through the Harvest Table.
Impressive 2010 results include:
In 2011, GCYC hopes to double the amount of fresh produce grown and continue working with youth and community members to distribute food to local organizations and businesses.
Pillsbury United Communities – Oak Park Center
Families in Motion Program
Families in Motion is a dynamic program that brings multiple generations within families together around contemporary, fun activities like Wii Sports, Martial Arts, swimming and gardening. Healthier eating is then integrated into the activity mix as kids are given the tools and venues to cook for their families, transforming them into “hero-chefs” and showcasing their accomplishments. Read more…
University Settlement Society of New York, Inc.
Nutrition and Culinary Program
New York, NY
The Nutrition and Culinary Program brings the energy and expertise of one of New York City’s most prominent caterers to a captive audience of 80 young people in a robust Brooklyn afterschool program. The program starts with kid-friendly basics of where food comes from and how to cook. Then over the course of the school year, the program integrates family workshops and cooking nights; farm field trips; and “working” at the adjacent community garden/green market. Read more…