It is common knowledge that our general population is way too heavy for their own good and that this trend of unhealthy food and beverage consumption is leading to an unfit society. Companies are taking it upon themselves to participate in reversing this condition which afflicts many Americans and is also causing a huge burden on the health care system. The first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, has taken it upon herself to get children to be more active and vigilant about the food they are eating (and the beverages they are drinking from their cup holder) through a project called Let’s Move! She is getting a helping hand with here initiative from hospitality and restaurant groups such as Eat N Park who are into personalized dining as well as providing services through its various arms for sectors such as corporates and hospitals.
LifeSmiles is the project launched by Eat N Park streamlining themselves with the goals that are set by the First Lady in Let’s Move with their own investment of $1 million and 20,000 volunteer hours. It focuses on ensuring children get the opportunity to have a healthy and active lifestyle reaching out to the communities that the hospitality group is already established in.
These goals would be:
• Getting parents or caretakers involved in the process of educating them about what is available to them to ensure their children benefit
• Reacquainting schools or other institutes to a healthier diet
• Bringing healthy fresh local produce at affordable prices to the under served communities
• Get children to participate in activities such as marathons or walks so they can get acquainted to the benefits of physical activities
LifeSmiles is merely an enhancement of a program started by the Pittsburgh based company in 2002 called FarmSource in which they paired up with farmers or local suppliers to put up food marked with a label of Eat N’ Smart as an indicator of fresh seasonal local products that are part of the customer’s specific dietary requirements. Brooks Broadhurst, Sr. VP Food and Beverage at Eat’n Park says that it has always been a part of the companies mission to give customers a choice to a healthy diet by making such food more accessible (for those requiring wheelchair accessories or not) as well as enhancing knowledge about wellness and health. This project is coming at a time when it has become critical to act upon the issue of obesity.
In tandem with the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank, LifeSmiles has donated $40,000 for getting the Farm Stand Project underway in 13 Pittsburgh neighborhoods. Also in Eat n’ Park restaurants the children’s meal will have an option of taking an apple instead of a cookie, and natural juice instead of pop for their drink holder. Of course, marathons are a great way to introduce children to running for health and Pittsburgh Children’s Marathon is going to be an event the group gets involved with in 2011.