Fresh Express Kicks Off In The Phoenix Community

fresh expressFall weather is upon us, which means the opportunity for fall fruits and vegetable varieties from Fresh Express mobile market! We encourage all of our readers to shop the bus and check out what’s in season! You can find where they are by the schedule they post daily on their Facebook page and on their website.  Your efforts have contributed towards the $50,000+ in produce sales, which is what covers the cost of their operations and helps keep the program moving forward for those in Phoenix’s Food Desert.

Fresh Express Committee with members of their assigned Provisional group work together to stuff co-branded grocery bags for the upcoming November Touch-A-Truck event.

We kicked off Junior League of Phoenix volunteer opportunities at the Phoenix Food Day Festival on Thursday, October 22. Volunteers participated in setting the city record for the synchronized apple CRUNCH at noon with Mayor Stanton along with handing out our apple-themed activity sheets.  The Junior League of Phoenix apple-themed activity sheets included nutritional information and a fun recipe. Our volunteers assisted with the bus tasks at hand and ensured the mobile market’s nutritional education literature section was always stocked. It was a great way for Fresh Express and the Junior League of Phoenix to get out at an event together to promote what our partnership means: providing a reliable source of nutritional food to our Phoenix Community.

National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

In case you missed it, President Obama again proclaimed September as National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. And you probably did miss it, as the media seem to have moved on from their earlier focus on the problem – but that doesn’t mean this health epidemic has gone away!

While there have been some positive signs – overall, childhood obesity rates have stopped rising, and there has been a drop in obesity rates in children 2 to 5 years old – there is still much to be done. Government data indicates that even though rates for children have remained stable, about 17% of American children and adolescents aged 2-19 (an alarming 12.7 million children!) are obese. Add to that number the children who are considered merely overweight and that jumps to more than 30%. The commitment to the fight against childhood obesity must continue.photo-1423483641154-5411ec9c0ddf

Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative began in 2010, and was backed up by a Presidential Memorandum that established the first national task force on childhood obesity that drew on the departments of the Interior, Health and Human Services, Agriculture and Education. Although the program has brought about significant change thus far, notably the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, Mrs. Obama’s initiative was never about immediate results, however. “When we started Let’s Move, we wanted to end our epidemic of childhood obesity in a generation so that kids growing up today would develop different habits and they would grow up healthier, and they would grow up with the tools and the information they need — would need to make good choices,” she stated in 2012.

10710345_10152436429182218_2918400778553332135_oAnd that’s what Junior League‘s Kids in the Kitchen is about as well – lasting change that begins with the education of children and their parents about the importance of good nutrition.

Children’s health and wellness has been a key issue for Junior Leagues since our founding in 1901, and in fact, Kids in the Kitchen was established four years before Let’s Move! Now in its 10th year, and with programs in more than 200 Leagues in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the U.K., KITK has grown into one of the most-successful, all-volunteer efforts in the fight against childhood obesity.

The award-winning program was selected by Kashi, the premier natural food company, to be a featured REAL PROJECT partner in 2013 on 1.8 million boxes of their Cinnamon Harvest Cereal. And Kashi has further recognized the innovative work of numerous individual Leagues in addressing healthy eating and nutrition among children at the community level through generous grants.

*This article was originally published in connected, an official publication of The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc., and has been reprinted with permission.

Let’s start by talking about nutrition!

food-wood-tomatoes-largeIt’s no secret that developed countries are faced with soaring obesity rates, particularly for children but also adults. Type 2 diabetes affects more than 27 million Americans. And poor dietary habits are a critical factor in the onset of cardiac disease. None of this is the result of lack of food; it’s the result of, well, bad nutrition.

In fact, according to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, typical American diets exceed the recommended intake levels or limits in four categories: calories from solid fats and added sugars; refined grains; sodium; and saturated fat, but Americans eat less than the recommended amounts of vegetables, fruits, whole-grains, dairy products, and oils.

Good nutrition has been an important focus area for Junior Leagues for decades. So much so, that AJLI’s Kids in the Kitchen program, now in its 9th year, is the core nutrition program for more than 200 Leagues.food-eggs-box-large

But what’s also fascinating is to see the ways that individual Junior Leagues have created new and innovative initiatives to address nutrition problems in their communities.

The Junior League of Phoenix takes the fresh-produce-is-best idea but puts it on a refitted bus – formerly part of the Valley Metro fleet – and sets up mobile markets offering fresh, affordable and high-quality fruits and vegetables in food deserts in the Discovery Triangle area, a 25-square-mile area encompassing large parts of downtown Phoenix and downtown Tempe.

As a founding sponsor of the Fresh Express Mobile Food Bus from the Discovery Triangle Development Corporation, JLP is responsible for a nutrition curriculum for Fresh Express customers that includes handouts on healthy eating and nutritional guidelines, recipes for utilizing fresh produce, and cooking/recipe demonstrations. The Fresh Express makes indexstops at schools as well as senior centers and community centers in the area.

*This article was originally published in connected, an official publication of The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc., and has been reprinted with permission.