Change Up For the Good: Fostering Healthy Choices For All in Santa Cruz County
(A Project of UCSC's Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems, Central Coast School Food Alliance, Jovenes SANOS, & United Way of Santa Cruz County)
At present California children are eating less than the suggested amount of fruits and vegetables while showing increases in diet-related health problems. Further, preferences of sweetened beverages over water are weighing in on young people’s future as life speeds up and the time to eat and drink becomes rushed. At present, four billion dollars annually goes to marketing junk food and fast foods to children under the age of 18 with built environments that can make choices difficult due to placement, targeted promotions, and affordability. While these trends are cause for alarm communities across the United States are working to solve problems and explore options to reclaim our sense of place together.
The "built environment" encompasses places and spaces created or modified by people including schools, parks, and transportation systems, and structured by land use rules, as well as by economics and design features. Research is increasingly demonstrating links between specific community factors, such as the availability of parks, accessibility of healthy and affordable food options, and the choices people make in their daily lives. Healthy people require healthy environments, neighborhoods, schools, childcare centers, and businesses. People need their environments to be structured in ways that help them access healthy foods and easily incorporate physical activity into their daily routines. Creating healthy environments requires coordinated and comprehensive efforts by multiple organizations, leaders, fields, and sectors.
While school nutrition and food services introduce more healthy, fresh food options onsite off site nearby vendors strive to cater to students and customers needs. With short time periods before, during, and after school to grab a bite students seek out convenience and fast foods that include ice cream, candy, sweetened beverages, and junk food within walking distance to open high school campuses in Santa Cruz County. At the same time, these channels can be sources for healthy options for snacks and meals as partners in our community. Innovative fresh food and beverage changes are possible when we work together. In fact, as a local business you may already be commited to our vision and taking on the pledge could be "low hanging fruit."
"As a local business leader my business pledges to commit at least 5 of the 14 Change Up For the Good Practices as selected below based on our business model (i.e., Retail or Restaurant/Cafe). I will commit to making the changes I select below for my business by April 1st, 2015. I will also follow-up with the Change Up the Good project team and be available to communicate with them so we can share our successes, insights, and challenges while striving to support greater access to healthy choices for youth, students, and our community."