Let’s start by talking about nutrition!

food-wood-tomatoes-largeIt’s no secret that developed countries are faced with soaring obesity rates, particularly for children but also adults. Type 2 diabetes affects more than 27 million Americans. And poor dietary habits are a critical factor in the onset of cardiac disease. None of this is the result of lack of food; it’s the result of, well, bad nutrition.

In fact, according to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, typical American diets exceed the recommended intake levels or limits in four categories: calories from solid fats and added sugars; refined grains; sodium; and saturated fat, but Americans eat less than the recommended amounts of vegetables, fruits, whole-grains, dairy products, and oils.

Good nutrition has been an important focus area for Junior Leagues for decades. So much so, that AJLI’s Kids in the Kitchen program, now in its 9th year, is the core nutrition program for more than 200 Leagues.food-eggs-box-large

But what’s also fascinating is to see the ways that individual Junior Leagues have created new and innovative initiatives to address nutrition problems in their communities.

The Junior League of Phoenix takes the fresh-produce-is-best idea but puts it on a refitted bus – formerly part of the Valley Metro fleet – and sets up mobile markets offering fresh, affordable and high-quality fruits and vegetables in food deserts in the Discovery Triangle area, a 25-square-mile area encompassing large parts of downtown Phoenix and downtown Tempe.

As a founding sponsor of the Fresh Express Mobile Food Bus from the Discovery Triangle Development Corporation, JLP is responsible for a nutrition curriculum for Fresh Express customers that includes handouts on healthy eating and nutritional guidelines, recipes for utilizing fresh produce, and cooking/recipe demonstrations. The Fresh Express makes indexstops at schools as well as senior centers and community centers in the area.

*This article was originally published in connected, an official publication of The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc., and has been reprinted with permission.