Nutrition Related Programs

Nutrition related programs that serve Rutherford County are the National School Lunch/Breakfast Programs, Rutherford County School Nutrition, and Meals on Wheels.

After reviewing our statistics from questions 1-22, the stat that seemed most concerning was that 36% of Rutherford County adults qualify as obese. Our group felt that adult obesity needed to be the main focus for our program. 36% is much too high for such an issue considering the severe consequences of obesity such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and overall diminished quality of life.

Another area where health disparities are evident is income. Approximately 44% of children receive free/reduced lunch at school and 13% of the county lack access to food. Poverty is certainly another area that should be prioritized when trying to improve the lives of those in Rutherford County.

Our action plan is to align our program with the existing program Cooking Matters. This program involves offering a once per week cooking class at local YMCA’s and recreation centers where participants cook a specified dish led by a chef and dietician to ensure proper preparation as well as an understanding of the health benefits of the prepared dish.

Participants will be provided with enough ingredients to prepare the dish at home after the class in finished. We feel that this effort is more likely to succeed in addressing adult obesity since participants have already displayed an interest in improving their health by attending the YMCA/rec center prior to the offering of this class. Participants may also be motivated to attend our class because they will be given enough ingredients to prepare each meal at home. Negatives of addressing obesity include the fear that people experience when making lifestyle changes. In addition, everyone involved in our program must make sure that participants never feel blamed or guilty as a result of attending. We will know that our program is effective by looking at our attendance rate at the beginning and comparing it to attendance rate at the end. Our goal is to have a 75% attendance rate at the conclusion of the program. (Of all the participants that we start with, we hope that 75% of them will still be attending at the end.) Our primary measure of success will be the setting and achieving of an individual weight loss related goal for each participant. We will have each participant come up with a goal they want to have achieved by the end of the class, and we hope that at least 50% of them will accomplish that individual goal.

Other potential solutions for addressing obesity include encouraging people simple identify 1-3 meals that they can consistently rely on to promote weight loss. These meals should be budget-friendly, easy to prepare, and enjoyable to consume. This can be challenging due to the higher cost of many weight-loss promoting foods. In addition, even though some recipes may not require much time to prepare, many people are very unwilling and/or uneducated when it comes to cooking for themselves.

We also believe that a simple but effective solution is to encourage people to identify 1 physical activity they enjoy and incorporate it into their schedule at least 3 times per week. Ideally, they would engage in their chosen activity at the same times each week to ensure consistency. This may be more achievable by Rutherford County residents considering that there are 18 recreation and fitness facilities where a variety of activities can be performed. Other resources include apps such as MyFitnessPal and FitBit to help people have a clearer understanding of their caloric consumption and activity.

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