U.S. Department of the Interior hosts “Healthy Parks Healthy People” event to celebrate the launch of the National Park Service’s Healthy and Sustainable Food Program
Yesterday, the US Department of the Interior launched the National Park Service’s “Healthy Parks Healthy People” initiative. Due to an increase in national demand for healthy food options as well as the National Park Service’s promotion of healthier choices, parks will now offer healthier, more sustainable food options.
My fellow Mission Outdoors intern, Katie Joyce, and I were lucky enough to attend this event held at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. The event spotlighted Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis, and White House Senior Policy Advisor on Nutrition and past White House chef, Sam Kass. Each of these individuals spoke about the importance of introducing healthy food options to National Park concessions. Director Jarvis emphasized that introducing healthier options in parks will give those 23 million people who use the concessions a wider variety of menu choices. Including healthy options at National Parks will help to promote healthy living and activity in National Parks.
The event included a delicious reception featuring healthy locally grown foods. The foods were prepared by four different concessioners who collaborated on behalf of the National Park Service’s healthy and sustainable food program. The concessioners, Xanterra, Delaware North Companies, Aramark, and Guest Services, each had a station featuring a healthy and delicious food option. Some of these tasty options included vegan black bean burgers, crab cakes, Chesapeake Bay seafood tacos, fresh berries, turkey sloppy Joes, fruit spritzers, and gluten free almond crested chicken tenders. While we sampled a little piece of everything, our favorite item of the day was the delicious Low fat vanilla yogurt with fresh blackberries, local honey and an oven baked crisp.
After tasting the healthy food options, I am excited for the National Parks to implement the new food program! The program is a great way to utilize locally grown foods, boost regional economies, and reduce environmental impact. Furthermore, park visitors will have an enhanced park experience. Enjoying the outdoors at the nations National Parks will now be a healthier experience than ever before. I encourage everyone to visit a National Park this summer and enjoy one of the new healthy food options -- and get outdoors, too!