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Commissioner Nick Fish Announces New Parks & Recreation Program as part of his Healthy Portland Initiative

News Release from: Portland Parks & Recreation
Posted: May 29th, 2012 10:18 AM
Photo/sound file: (PP&R's University Park Community Center. Courtesy: Portland Parks & Recreation, Portland, OR)

(Portland, OR) -

Portland Parks & Recreation invites media to join us to celebrate new changes that will help make Portland an even healthier city.

WHAT: Celebration of the Healthy Portland Initiative
WHERE: University Park Community Center, 9009 N. Foss Ave
WHEN: Thursday, May 31, 4pm
Commissioner Nick Fish will try his hand at cooking healthy food with kids in the NEW Grow Afterschool program!

Last year, Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) community centers across the city began serving healthier snacks as part of Commissioner Nick Fish's Healthy Portland initiative.

This spring, PP&R continues efforts towards Healthy Parks, Healthy Portland...for All! A new contract with a beverage provider has resulted in milk, fruit juice, water, and low calorie, healthy drinks in all PP&R community centers and pools.

"PP&R's motto is 'Healthy Parks, Healthy Portland...for All!' and we're working hard to take that commitment to the next level," says Portland Parks Commissioner Nick Fish.

In addition to serving healthier snacks, Portland Parks & Recreation is now engaged in a new pilot program called Grow Afterschool. The endeavor integrates healthy eating and food systems education into afterschool programs in north Portland's University Park and St Johns Community Centers. Commissioner Fish will try his best to cook up healthy food with the kids at University Park Community Center at 4pm on Thursday, May 31!

The Grow Afterschool program will give kids the opportunity to plant and harvest crops, taste seasonal vegetables, prepare healthy recipes and even go on field trips to local markets and farms.

"To our knowledge, there isn't another program out there like Grow Afterschool," says Ali Ryan, PP&R Program Specialist. "It combines healthy activities like gardening and cooking in one affordable recreation program."

Grow Afterschool sites at University Park and St Johns Community Centers also serve nutritious meals as part of the Child & Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), which provides federal funding for meal service at programs in high-poverty areas. Implementation of Grow Afterschool was funded by a CACFP Child Wellness grant from the Oregon Department of Education.

"When it comes to health, we recognize that place matters," Fish explains. "Communities who have easy access to healthy food and safe places to exercise are healthier communities - our park system is at the heart of this movement."

Building on existing services that Portland Parks & Recreation provides, such as the Community Gardens Program, Commissioner Fish continues to see opportunities to make the healthy choice, the fun and easy choice.

After the current pilot program wraps up at the end of this school year, the Grow Afterschool program will start up again in September. The full season will kick off with a "Kids Cook" event for the whole family. Students interested in enrolling in the Grow Afterschool program can pre-register by contacting the University Park and St Johns Community Centers.

Commissioner Fish has also teamed up with the Oregon Public Health Institute and Multnomah County to increase the amount of healthy food sold at two of Portland's signature events: the Rose Festival and Oregon Food Bank's Waterfront Blues Festival. Event coordinators are promoting the Healthy Options Here program by encouraging their vendors to add new healthy options to their menus.

The Healthy Portland Initiative serves as a model for parks departments across the country which embrace a growing and important role in community health and chronic disease prevention.

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