DHS Encourages Illinoisans to Lead Healthier Lifestyles During Nutrition Month

 'Eat Right with Color!' Initiative Urges Illinoisans to Practice Better Nutrition; Orr Award Recognizes Nutrition Programs

Highlighting the health benefits of good nutrition for Illinois families, the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) and the Illinois Interagency Nutrition Council (INC) are joining nutrition professionals across Illinois and throughout the United States to promote food security, good nutrition, physical activity and health during nutrition month. Recipients of the Robin A. Orr Community Partnership Award are also honored this month.

The theme for the March 2011 Nutrition Month is Eat Right with Color! The initiative draws attention to the health benefits of adding a variety of colors to meals, ensuring a balance of fruits and vegetables crucial in a healthy diet.

"Good nutrition is essential for growth and development, health and well-being, IDHS has many programs that make a difference in the lives of our clients," said IDHS Assistant Grace Hou. "We know that nutritional factors play a large role in the incidence of preventable illness and premature death, and many diseases that are associated with overweight and obesity. We hope nutrition month will help everyone realize that they too can make a difference."

The proclamation also highlights the Robin A. Orr Community Partnership Award, which recognizes Ms. Orr's lifetime commitment to outstanding service for persons seeking to improve their nutrition and lifestyle. Nominees were reviewed based on their efforts to further promote health and wellness through nutrition education, coordination of services and access to nutrition programs that would result in participants achieving food security.

This year's awardees include: Boys and Girls Club of Carbondale, Carbondale, Near North Health Service Corporation, Chicago, Oswego Senior Center/Oswegoland Seniors Inc., Oswego, C-U Fit Families, Urbana, Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center, Mattoon, and Illinois Coalition for Community Services, Charleston. The Illinois State Board of Education Nutrition Education Program, an INC member, will provide a complementary resource tool to each award recipient to further enhance their program.

"It was a difficult decision for the INC review committee; programs were nominated from all across the state. Nominees included partnerships working with families to provide support and education as they work to develop a healthy lifestyle, afterschool programs providing tutoring, mentoring along with nutritious snacks and physical activity to groups providing nutrition support for seniors," Lindsay Blough, Illinois State Board of Education Nutrition Services and Chair of the INC Award Review Committee.

"As these agencies are honored during various regional events, we hope to inspire other organizations to continue or build upon their current efforts. We know there is a lot of great work being done across the state, and we hope others will continue working to assure our state continues to strive towards everyone living a healthier lifestyle," said Penny Roth, Chief of the Bureau of Family Nutrition and Co-Chair of INC.

Throughout the month of March, various IDHS offices will take part in National Nutrition Month by hosting a variety of activities and programs for state employees to promote good nutrition, physical activity and health. The agency encourages Illinoisans to take part in Nutrition Month by hosting events in their communities.

Suggested activities for nutrition month can include:

  • Participate in "eat right with color," by incorporating a variety of color to your plate.
  • Organize a healthy recipe snack day.
  • Plan family meals. Eat together one more meal than usual.
  • Conduct wellness challenges such as: drink 8 ounces of water a day in March
  • Turn off the television. Plan a walk or other activity with your family, then follow with a healthy snack.

For more ideas to create your own Nutrition Month celebrations visit the American Dietetic Association's website.

For more information about the state nutrition programs, please contact the Illinois Department of Human Services' Bureau of Family Nutrition at (217) 782-2166. For more information visti the Interagency Nutrition Council. For information visit the Healthier US School Challenge.