By: Jennifer Brady, CPHMC Project Coordinator
On Saturday, October 22nd, the Loudoun Pediatric Obesity Coalition (LPOC) hosted their second “Healthy Living in Loudoun” day event as a coalition. Despite dismal windy weather, the event was a success with representation from 13 coalition partner organizations and 7 additional businesses in the county. Representatives from our Congresswoman’s office attended the event, shared pictures on their social media page, and requested to be added to our LPOC’s list-serve to learn more about our work. The healthy living fair was hosted by Shoppers Food & Pharmacy, a grocery store frequented by many WIC families in the county and known among WIC participants for it’s clear labeling of WIC items.
Thanks to the hard work and active engagement of the store manager, LPOC was able to fill 200 reusable Shoppers grocery bags with food donated by the store to give out as goody bags for event attendees. The bags were stocked with cartons of chopped tomatoes and tomato sauce, sample bags of muesli and steel cut oats, healthy snacks, apples, oranges, bananas, bottles of water, kitchen supplies, and fliers for community resources. Nearly all 200 bags were given out at the event and the remaining food was donated to Loudoun Hunger Relief, a local food pantry and LPOC member organization.
The schedule was jam-packed with outreach education on community resources including SNAP enrollment, cooking demos, entertainment, and giveaways. Every 20 minutes, attendees could participate in yoga, Zumba, and Fuel Up to Play 60 active games, and at the top of every hour, drawings were held for healthy living raffle prizes. To earn raffle tickets, the coalition developed a “Hunt for Health” passport that families could complete by visiting at least 10 vendors and either answering a nutrition trivia question at their table or doing a quick and fun physical activity.
Prizes include month long passes to martial arts after-school programs, free passes to community gyms, jump ropes, bike helmets, gift cards, and the grand prize: a bike! The winner of the bike was a girl who was overheard saying, “I hope I win that bike because then I would have a way to get around.”
Other event successes included signing one family up for SNAP, providing information about SNAP and other community resources to many more families, providing flu shots, recruiting a new coalition member, and gaining more coalition support from local elected officials. The Sterling representative for the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors promoted our event on social media and even provided us with informational fliers to distribute in the goody bags.
All in all, the event gave us an opportunity to develop a strong relationship between the coalition leadership team and the manager of Shoppers. In the future, we look forward to working with the grocery store, and other new community partners formed during the planning of this event, on more initiatives to encourage healthy living and increased food access in the region.