Rochelle Small-Toney: Parks & Rec offer healthy food access


City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney


City Manager

Sunday, August 5, 2018

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live,” said Jim Rohn, author, entrepreneur and motivational speaker.

It’s so important to take care of your body, and what you choose to eat daily will have a positive or negative impact on your life. That’s why I am proud of the Rocky Mount Parks and Recreation Department for successfully implementing a $25,000 grant in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association for out-of-school time healthy food access and nutritional literacy programs. The gift is part of a $1.5 million grant received from the Walmart Foundation to support out-of-school time programs in parks and recreation agencies across the country.

Implementation of the grant started in June and will run through May 2019. One aspect of the grant includes a partnership with the school district. While the school provides lunches for their summer feeding program, Parks and Recreation staff will venture out to schools providing education on nutritional literacy and 60 minutes of physical activity through recreation and games like basketball, soccer and baseball.

In addition to the school site, grant funding will provide the necessary resources for the department’s summer camp and after school programs. In June, nutritional programs and cooking classes began for summer camp participants and will continue through the end of summer camp on Aug. 24. In the fall, free cooking classes, nutritional literacy programs and holiday-themed cooking classes will be provided for adults and families. The classes will alternate between the South Rocky Mount Community Center and the Booker T. Washington Community Center September through May.

Thanks to NRPA’s Commit to Health Campaign, which encourages the implementation and evaluation of Healthy Eating, Physical Activity standards in parks and recreation sites nationwide, participants can focus on a Commit to Health food for the month and different curriculum throughout the program. Part-time Parks and Recreation staff and various guest speakers teach kids about the selected nutritious foods and how to prepare them.

The new NRPA grant is anticipated to reach about 300 children through the city’s summer camp program and has reached approximately 500 youth via the summer feeding program which ends Aug. 9. The school’s summer feeding program and the access to healthy foods grant ensure that students can still eat a nutritious meal for the summer months, get engaged in physical activity during the break, and teaches them to acquire life-long healthy eating habits.

Applications are still being accepted for the city’s summer camp and after-school program where kids can benefit from access to healthy foods. To get involved in summer camp, call 252-972-1135. If you are an adult or have a family who would like to participate in the fall cooking classes and nutritional literacy programs, the first class will be held at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 11 at the BTW Community Center.

Visit the Rocky Mount Parks and Recreation Department’s Recreation Services Division Facebook page @RMPRRecreationServices for a full class schedule, coming soon. Or call 252-972-1135.

Remember to “take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”