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Eat Well Toolkit

Healthy Food in Parks - Eat Well Toolkit

Parks are an important resource for communities and families alike, providing a place for thousands of visitors to enjoy a wide range of recreational activities. Michigan offers nature’s tranquility in six state forests, four national parks and 102 state parks, as well as a wealth of county and municipal parks. Though the Mitten State is known for its Great Lakes and natural landscape, Michigan also has the unfortunate distinction of being the 17th most obese state in the country. And while Michigan parks are a valuable resource for adults, families and their children to stay healthy through exercise and recreation, the high-calorie and low-nutrient dense foods being served at park concessions and vending make eating healthy in parks a challenge.

Because of the vast number of visitors to Michigan parks every year, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and the Michigan Recreation and Parks Association (mParks) are beginning to recognize the importance of offering healthy foods and beverages in parks. In doing so, we piloted a healthy food service guidelines demonstration project, “Eat Well mParks” in two Oakland County Parks during summer 2015. The common goal was to increase healthy foods, while decreasing unhealthy foods at park concessions by developing and implementing healthy food service guidelines that were marketed using the GO, SLOW, WHOA Campaign.

This toolkit is intended to provide an introductory framework using the outcome of our demonstration project to guide other parks and public facilities in identifying, planning and implementing healthy food service guidelines and policies. This toolkit includes information on the four components typically considered to plan, implement and evaluate healthy food service guidelines, drawing from the Oakland County demonstration project.

The framework is organized into the following sections:

  • Assessing the Food and Nutrition Environment

  • Developing & Implementing Healthy Food Service Guidelines

  • Marketing & Promotion Strategies

  • Evaluation

mParks EatWell Toolkit