SAN FRANCISCO -- National Park Service director Jon Jarvis is introducing a major food strategy for the nation's parks. Its objective is to provide "healthy" foodstuff options to all national park visitors.
Jarvis made the announcement during the Healthy Parks Healthy People US conference held in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area here. The event was co-hosted by NPS, the Institute at the Golden Gate and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. More than 100 leaders in healthcare, the environment, nonprofits, government and business discussed how the packs service can undertake health and wellness initiatives in America's local, state and national parks, and how parks can promote healthy lifestyle changes.
"The healthy foods strategy will help ensure that our 281 million annual visitors have access to healthy, sustainable, and high-quality food at reasonable prices, while reducing our overall impact on the environment," Jarvis said.
The first step in the plan is a partnership with the Centers for Disease Control Epidemiological Service to conduct a baseline survey of the nutritional value of the food served in America's national parks. In looking at the availability and cost of healthy foods in various regions of the country, the NPS intends to make informed decisions about healthy foods in its concession operations, and plans to build healthy food requirements into its concession contract requirements.
The parks service has begun to evaluate the health and sustainability of the food served in parks. The new healthy and sustainable food program piloted at Muir Woods in the Golden Gate recreation area is one of the first examples of how park concessions can effectively support healthy food choices, the service reported.
"Food for the Parks," a new report featuring case studies from the national parks system, has been developed by the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy's Institute at the Golden Gate. It's available at instituteatgoldengate.org (scroll down to "Our Initiatives" and click on "Food for the Parks").
"America's great outdoors promotes greater access to nature as a catalyst to better human and community health," Jarvis said. Across the country, parks of all sizes are engaging in dialogues and developing programs with the healthcare community, and private sector partners including Kaiser Permanente, United Health Group and Sutter Health, have stepped forward in support of NPS goals.
Information on Healthy Parks Healthy People US may be found at the NPS site.