First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe helped launch a statewide campaign known as “Eat Smart, Move More” at Chimborazo Elementary School in Richmond, Virginia, Aug. 15. 

The campaign is part of Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Family Nutrition Program, whose mission is to help low-income families make healthy food choices on a limited budget and to promote healthy, active lifestyles.

This year’s campaign features billboards located throughout Virginia and bus placards in larger localities, including Richmond and Hampton Roads that depict Virginia youth following in the active footsteps of Virginia Tech student athletes. 

Posters also will be distributed to participating schools.

One goal of the “Eat Smart, Move More” campaign is to show children and their families that eating nutrient-dense foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains, and being active are not just good health choices — they are socially respected behaviors. A second aim is to share the message that eating nutritious foods helps athletes achieve their goals on baseball fields, basketball courts, and anywhere else they have to depend on their bodies to perform well.

“It is important that our children are regularly engaged in physical activity and get the healthy and nutritious foods they need to learn and grow,” said McAuliffe. “Guiding our children towards healthy choices isn’t easy, and it’s important that we have campaigns like "Eat Smart, Move More" to help show Virginia’s youth that it is cool to make healthy choices.”

The kickoff event unveiled the “Eat Smart, Move More” bus signs and included activities for children, including a garden scavenger hunt and a nutrition fishing game where participants learned health facts. The First Lady took photos with kids and fruit smoothies were given to attendees.

The campaign was launched on the heels of an increased awareness of food deserts — areas with limited access to affordable, healthy food — in the commonwealth and the publication of a report compiled by a food desert task force that was established to address the related issues of obesity and poor nutrition.

“We greatly appreciate the First Lady’s interest in and support for programs promoting healthy lifestyles and the choices of young Virginians,” said Edwin Jones, director of Virginia Cooperative Extension and associate dean for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech. “The primary objective of Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Family Nutrition Program is to make sure that families in the commonwealth are empowered with the knowledge to make good nutritional choices.”

Social media account holders followed the event on Twitter using the hashtag #VAkidsesmm, as saw Facebook updates at the program's page. Virginia Cooperative Extension will also give away Virginia Tech-branded gear to social media followers who spot the campaign ads on billboards and buses and either post photos of them to Extension’s Facebook page or tweet photos using the hashtag #esmmfotocontest.

The Family Nutrition Program is funded by the USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
 Education (SNAP-Ed) and Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program
 (EFNEP) grants. This community-based nutrition program reached more than 129,000 children and adults in 2013 and helped to reduce health care costs by teaching healthy eating, active living, safe food handling, and thrifty food shopping.

 

 

Written by Amy Loeffler.