Blast of fresh ideas from Take Step Two
by Sherrie Norris
There's a lot of "two-stepping" going on
around the area these days, thanks to a renewed focus on health and nutrition with a special
emphasis on senior adults and children.
Thanks to the Take Step
Two Initiative, funded by the Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant, a local effort is
making it easier for area residents to make healthy choices, such as eating local
A collaborative effort of the Appalachian District Health
Department and partnering agencies, such as the Watauga County Project on Aging, Be
Active-Appalachian Partnership, the Watauga County Farmers' Market, the Watauga County Children's
Council and others, are providing multiple opportunities for local residents to become more aware
of resources to improve their personal health and lifestyles.
0example of how the community effort works was the recent Senior Market Day at the Watauga County
Older adults in Watauga county and surrounding
communities were invited to visit the Watauga County Farmers' Market on Wednesday, July 25 to
participate in fun educational activities, cooking demonstrations and samples, live music and
purchasing local produce.
The partnering agencies have joined
forces, said Kaitlyn Jongkind, Food Systems Coordinator at the health department, to encourage
healthy eating habits and increased senior involvement in the community.
Tabitha Thomas, director of The Lois E. Harrill Senior center in Boone said she
saw Senior Market Day as one way to encourage seniors to become actively engaged in the community
and to learn how to access the available resources for fresh produce.
Seniors were encouraged to sign up at the Project on Aging office for the Senior
Farmers' Market Nutrition Program to receive $21 worth of coupons that could be used at the
farmers' market. Seniors who self-identified themselves as "low income" and participate in the
community congregate nutrition program are eligible.
As the population ages, older adults make up a large portion of food consumers. Programs like Senior Market Day and the Senior Farmer's Market Nutrition Program are aimed at getting older adults to shop more locally, said Jongkind.
"Senior Market Day at the farmers' market focuses on the impact that older adults in the community can make on the local economy when they purchase fruits and vegetables that have been grown locally," said Susan Tumbleston, Director of Be Active-Appalachian Partnership. "Hopefully, it helped seniors learn that buying locally is a win-win situation for all involved, as every dollar they spend at local markets will have the ability to change the community."
Appalachian District Health Department was able to sponsor the senior day and other cooking
demonstrations at farmers' markets through the Take Step Two Initiative, which is funded by the
Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant and is focused on making it easier to make healthy
choices, such as eating local foods.
"Senior Day really was a
incredible collaboration between many partners," said Jongkind. "Be Active-Appalachian's Project
EMMA Research was in charge of drinks for the event and secured several prizes. Carol Cook,
especially, has regularly been working with the seniors at the center through gardening and
physical activity events ‑ from Zumba to gardening workshops, she has really done a lot with
Thomas organized transportation for several
seniors who came to the market and would otherwise have been unable to attend.
"Watauga County Farmers' Market Manager Tori Cox arranged to have live
entertainment for the day and has had funding set aside for produce for our cooking demos,"
Marlie Shelton, who is nearing the end of her
internship with the health department, was responsible for the cooking demonstrations on senior
day and has hosted similar demonstrations at the Alleghany County, Ashe County and Watauga County
Farmers' Markets. Shelton's demonstrations, which have typically lasted about 30 minutes, have
consisted of two recipes made with fresh, local produce with free samples served at the end.
Regular cooking demonstrations will continue to take place throughout the month of August in the
three counties, Jongkind said. "Marlie also coordinated a scavenger hunt for senior day and
secured several produce prizes, in addition to developing program-related pamphlets.
"Take Step Two has allowed us to lead regular healthy, cooking demos in Ashe, Alleghany and Watauga," said Jongkind. "We're trying to make it easy for people to whip up inexpensive and healthy recipes at home using local foods. Take Step Two has also made it possible for EBT cards to be accepted at the farmers market."
Entertainment was provided by Julie Chiles and Zeb
Gambill, "an old-time duo of guitar and fiddle," Jongkind said.
For more information about Take Step Two or improving lifestyles through healthier cooking and eating, contact Jongkind at (828) 264-4995, email (email@example.com) or visit http://www.takesteptwo.com.