Because making healthy choices is so important - both in the short and the long term - IHI decided to dedicate additional resources to this effort and engage our residents in a more structured way. The result is our Healthy Generations Program, which targets both youth and adults at our family sites. Healthy Generations' goals are to:
- Increase healthy food choices and overall food security among resident families;
- Increase real and perceived access to opportunities for physical activity among resident families; and
- Increase indoor air quality by helping residents make less toxic choices in cleaning materials and decrease tobacco use.
The three main program components are:
Access to Nutrition - In order to make difficult changes in diet and nutrition, people need to understand the importance of eating nutritious foods, have the knowledge necessary to make healthier food choices, understand how to choose and prepare healthy meals that don't compromise existing time commitments, and have real and perceived access to affordable options. In order to meet these needs, Resident Services staff:
- Partner with organizations such as the Oregon Food Bank and OSU Extension Services to provide workshops and series on healthy cooking and eating;
- Host monthly meals where inexpensive foods that are simple to prepare are made by residents and served;
- Promote healthy recipes; Incorporate the preparation of delicious healthy snacks and fun nutrition education as a core part of the after-school youth program;
- Work with individual households to identify decision makers, opportunities for change, practical nutrition goals and plans to make changes;
- Work with residents to change the housing community's perception of 'status' foods to those with strong health benefits; and
- Promote Harvest Share distributions, Farmers Markets that accept food stamps, sales at local grocery stores and other opportunities for free/low cost produce and healthy foods. Read more about Harvest Share.
Access to Physical Activity - To promote physical activity, IHI:
- Provides athletic equipment to "check out" for use in on-site greenspaces or nearby parks;
- Negotiates with local community centers and schools for reduced rates or free participation in formal classes;
- Directly pays fees/tuition, purchases equipment and arranges transportation for school and community classes or teams;
- Works with schools to create after-school opportunities that include all students;
- Provides on-site space for community organizations to offer classes to residents and the public;
- Facilitates Summer Fitness Challenges;
- Hosts workshops by educators and medical professionals on topics related to the importance of physical activity for the whole family;
- Promotes relevant activities taking place in the broader community; Provides regular information about relevant topics in site newsletters;
- Facilitates and incentivizes walking groups and on-site classes such as yoga or Tai Chi; and
- Organizes support groups for teens and adults.
Improved Indoor Air Quality - IHI has converted all of our family housing sites to non-smoking properties. We did this in conjunction with tobacco prevention and education coordinators to ease the transition for residents. IHI also worked with Multnomah County Tobacco Prevention Coordinators to offer an incentivized non-smoking youth pilot program. We promote green alternatives to toxic cleaning products by offering on-site workshops about green cleaning products designed by the American Lung Association and providing green cleaning materials to residents.