(Apple Valley)– St. Mary Medical Center recently received a $50,000 grant from Walmart Foundation to battle childhood obesity in the High Desert. St. Mary plans to use these funds to expand its nutrition and wellness services to more families and children, including the launch of the first nutrition counseling program in the community for overweight youth. This is the first grant the High Desert area has received from the Walmart Foundation and the California Advisory Council through its State Giving Program.
“We’re committed to supporting nutrition programs that help educate communities about healthier food solutions and choices so they can live better,” said Scott Kubicek, general manager of the Walmart Distribution Center in Apple Valley. “Walmart is proud to support efforts aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of children in the High Desert.”
“St. Mary is dedicated to the health of the entire High Desert through our Healthiest Communities initiative to be in the top ten percent of healthiest communities in the nation. We know we cannot achieve this goal on our own but only through the support and commitment of wonderful community partners like Walmart,” said Kevin Mahany, director of advocacy and healthy communities for St. Mary.
Throughout the valley there are six times more unhealthy food retail options than healthy ones. Also childhood obesity affects 40 percent of High Desert kids compared to a national average of 33.6 percent.
Over the next year, St. Mary will use these grant funds to support residents’ participation in four region-wide nutrition and fitness events to promote a healthy lifestyle. These events will include 5k runs, bicycle rides, fitness training and nutrition education in a family-friendly and festive environment. Other aspects of the campaign include expanding the reach and participation in the family nutrition course “Healthy Eating, Active Living” by promoting it through local parks and recreation programs. Lastly, the campaign will use physicians’ offices, local churches and other public areas to promote the healthy living message of 5-2-1-0. This encourages five (5) servings of fruits and vegetables each day; limits screen time of TV, video games and computers to two (2) hours a day; encourages one (1) hour of physical activity each day and zero (0) sugary beverages.