Local businesses and organizations are pledging to dump their doughnuts, pizzas and sugary sodas and replace them with fruits, veggie trays and other healthy snacks.
The United Way of Jackson County, in partnership with Jackson County Public Health, last week put out a plea for partners to participate in a six-month Healthy Snack Pledge pilot program that will begin July 1, said Dee Anne Everson, United Way executive director.
"We're asking them to look at their policies for healthy snacks in their workplace," Everson said.
Everson invited 60 organizations and companies to join with United Way late Wednesday. By Friday afternoon three had agreed to serve healthy snacks at their meetings, offering water and fewer sugar-sweetened beverages in their vending machines, and reviewing or creating healthy eating policies, she said.
Community Works, one of the first to sign up, will serve heathy snacks with less sugar, hydrogenated oils or high fructose corn syrup, said Shelly Hensarling, director of human resources at Community Works.
Hensarling said a nutritional upgrade has been under way at Community Works for awhile. Doughnuts have been swapped out for bran muffins, cheese and crackers take the place of cake, she said.
"We tend to serve a lot of fruit and vegetables," she said. "I try to promote wellness. I find the fruit really goes fast."
Participants will be asked to complete a brief survey at the beginning, middle, and end of the six-month pledge period, Everson said. Jane Stevenson, community health educator for Jackson County Public Health, will provide participants with tips on healthy snacks, policies focused on workplace health, and weekly success stories throughout the pilot.
Josephine County employees recently completed a "Healthy Eating Month." The Rogue Valley YMCA has started to change the content of their vending machines to offer healthier snacks, Everson said.
Addictions Recover Center is also on board with the half-year pledge, said Chris Mason, ARC's executive director. The center's mission statement specifically states it is to provide an opportunity for individuals and families to choose a healthier way of life, she said.
"We need to promote that," Mason said.
Mason said members of the ARC staff met with a nutritionist from the University of Oregon to discuss a nutrition-focused curriculum for their clients. Learning how food interacts with mental health and promotes strong bodies for recovery is an important part of their education process, she said.
"We have a garden now," Mason said. "We grow vegetables that we cook with so clients can connect growing, harvesting, cooking and eating."
Hensarling is looking forward to seeing some of Stevenson's tips for making healthy snacks that are tasty and have staying power. But Hensarling knows certain treats will stay on the menu regardless.
"Chocolate is still popular," said Hensarling. "But we go for the dark chocolate."
Everson said she understands changing the snacking culture from fat- and sugar-filled comfort food to one that provides better nutrition will not be "an overnight change."
At United Way's annual meeting last September, the usual breakfast fare was swapped out in favor of yogurt, fruit and granola.
"People wanted to know where the bacon, eggs and potatoes had gone," she said, smiling.
Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.