Gov. Blagojevich proclaims March Nutrition Month

The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) and the Illinois Interagency Nutrition Council (INC) honor sixteen organizations statewide that promote nutrition and healthy living in their communities

Stressing the health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables, fighting obesity and improving food security for Illinois families, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich has declared March Nutrition Month in Illinois. The Governor joins the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Illinois Interagency Nutrition Council (INC) to recognize community programs and partnerships that have demonstrated a commitment to their communities by implementing programs geared towards leading a nutritious and healthy lifestyle.

"March Nutrition Month is a great opportunity to make everyone aware of the health benefits of eating right and that means eating at least five or more servings of fruits and vegetables everyday as well as increasing physical activity," said Gov. Blagojevich. "Our children's' health and well being are dependent on changing our environment - at home, school and in the community. I commend these organizations for taking steps to promote these factors into their communities."

IDHS and INC awarded eight Community Partnership Awards and eight Honorable Mention Awards to recognize the hard work of organizations that are instrumental in promoting nutritious and healthy lifestyles in their communities from programs ranging from physical fitness and nutrition activities to breastfeeding promotion and support.

"Lifestyle behaviors affect many of the prevalent health problems related to poor or inadequate diets and inactivity. That is why I applaud all of the awardees for their dedication and collaborative efforts to promote healthy lifestyles and the value of nutrition and physical activity," said DHS Secretary Carol L. Adams, Ph.D.

The Illinois Department of Human Services is responsible for administering several food and nutritional programs, including the Food for Families initiative. In his FY09 budget address, the Governor proposed an additional $5 millions in funding to purchase healthy food that could feed over 175,000 families in Illinois. The additional funding will also include $300,000 in grants to food pantries to help them purchase equipment to stock fresh fruits and vegetables.

The Interagency Nutrition Council (INC) includes representatives from DHS and other agencies who work with the USDA Food and Nutrition Programs and non-profit organizations involved in food security and nutrition issues. INC's mission is to promote health and wellness through nutrition education, coordination of services and access to nutrition programs so that Illinois residents can achieve food security.

The participating programs share successes, collaborations and plans for working together to coordinate promotion, outreach and nutrition education projects across the state and across programs.

The eight Community Partnerships Awardees are as follows:

  • Donna Hawkins,
    Coordinated Youth and Human Service,
    Southern Illinois Healthy Children Task Force (SIHCTF),
    Granite City, IL
  • Paul Swiech, Health Editor
    Chuck Blystone, Features Editor
    Mary Ann Ford, Reporter
    Pantagraph Newspapers, Bloomington
  • Sarah Sullens and Peggy Litt
    Blessing Hospital, Quincy, IL
  • Ellen Jackson, Family Nutrition Program
    DuPage County Extension
  • Organic School Project
    Chicago, IL
  • Joliet Park District
  • Aida L. Giachello, Ph.D.
  • Midwest Latino Health Research Training and Policy Center
    University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)
  • Jolie Finkbiner
    ACE ("After School Community Enrichment")
    Summer Success/Summer Food Program
    Crawford County Illinois

The eight Honorable Mention Awards are as follows:

  • Terri Lawrence and Jackie Mollin
  • Head Start Program administered by Tri County Opportunities Council,
    Rock Falls, IL
  • Jennifer Nance
    Cooking Class for Franklin/Williamson Early Head Start Program
  • Deborah Szpila, Director of Maternal Child Health Services
    Linda Anderegg & Marie Zahorek, Lactation Consultants
    SilverCross Hospital, Joliet, IL
  • Karen Cole, West Side Pre-K Parent Coordinator
    West Side Elementary School
    Harrisburg, IL
  • Christine Wetzel, Carle Foundation Hospital
  • Sandy Patrick, Belleville Memorial Hospital
  • Vermilion County Family Nutrition Program
  • Joliet Public School District#86