HEAL Offers Support to Programs Implementing NAP SACC

CONCORD, NH -- With one in three low-income New Hampshire preschoolers either overweight or obese (NH Obesity Data Book), several child care programs are adopting policies to serve healthier meals and snacks and to increase physical activity for the children in their programs.

Sixteen childcare providers serving over 1,223 children across the state are utilizing Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care (NAP SACC), a simple, free tool to assess and improve nutrition and physical activity policies in their programs. With a consultant, every participating program commits to making at least one nutrition, one physical activity and one policy change. So far, programs have identified 34 policy changes that include switching to reduced fat milk, adding more physical activity throughout the day, and providing fruits and vegetables at meals and snacks. Several child care programs have planted gardens.

HEAL has offered support by partnering with the NH Obesity Prevention Program, which provided funding to train Early Childhood Professionals to become NAP SACC consultants.

These new policies have created positive changes for the children, according to Gerard Thompson, Executive Director of the Green Mountain Children's Center, a non-profit childcare provider with campuses in Lebanon and Claremont, New Hampshire, and Hartford, Vermont. "Our children are exposed to fresh fruits and vegetables daily, and they now ask their parents for healthier snacks at home," says Thompson. "Our teachers have also noticed with more physical activity breaks, the kids are better behaved and able to focus a little bit longer on their other activities."

kid_watermelon_sm.jpgMarla Ianello, Program Consultant for the Upper Valley HEAL Partnership, says that child care programs have been very receptive to the NAP SACC model. "Staff at the child care program do an assessment and then select which policy changes make the most sense for them - they like it because it is their choice rather than a mandate."

Several HEAL mini-grants were awarded by the HNHfoundation and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center to help programs implement new policies. To supplement food costs, Willing Hands, a non-profit organization, distributes free wholesome food to several programs in the Upper Valley.

Scot Foster of the NH Obesity Prevention Program states, "The participating child care programs understand that childhood obesity is a problem. They are caring for children for long periods of time and realize that they can make a difference by changing the environment and policies in their programs. Even small changes, like serving low-fat or skim milk to children over age two, can have a positive impact on the children."

About NAPSACC and HEAL NH: NAP SACC was developed by the North Carolina Healthy Weight Initiative and has been in use since 2003. First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move Campaign has identified NAP SACC as a child care obesity prevention intervention. More information about NAP SACC is available at: www.center-trt.org.

NAP SACC was introduced to New Hampshire two years ago by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Obesity Prevention Program (OPP). Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) NH promotes the use of NAP SACC as a simple tool to improve healthy eating and physical activity.

The Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) NH Campaign began in 2008 and is led by the Foundation for Healthy Communities, a non-profit New Hampshire organization focused on improving health and healthcare through innovative partnerships. HEAL is supported by a collaboration of foundations and state agencies committed to promoting health and wellbeing for all New Hampshire residents. Funding is provided by HNHfoundation, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation, Endowment for Health, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, NH Charitable Foundation, and NH Department of Health and Human Services. More information about the HEAL NH campaign can be found at www.healnh.org.

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