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Healthy concession options score at JCPRD
POSTED: 06/26/2013
 
Healthy food at a sporting event? Are you kidding? Five to ten years ago this would have been unthinkable. But it’s becoming more common each year as Americans strive to be healthier and park and recreation agencies expand their commitment to promoting healthy lifestyles. And that’s exactly what we are doing at several JCPRD facilities.

Last fall we made the decision to welcome in 2013 by making it easier for our patrons to stick to their New Year’s resolutions with healthy concession options at Okun Fieldhouse in Shawnee and New Century Fieldhouse in Gardner. And this summer we introduced a healthier menu to our patrons at The Theatre in the Park.

Through an initiative marketed as JCPRD Smart Snacks SCORE!, visitors to these facilities can now enjoy a jalapeno chicken wrap, a turkey sandwich on multigrain bread, or a grilled chicken breast on flatbread. Sorry, no french fries, as fried food is a thing of the past. The snacks and sides now offered include baked chips, apples, and bananas.

Menu boards display the calorie count for each item, so patrons can make an educated decision when choosing what to eat. Healthy eating is also promoted through portion control. Gone are large candy bars, though fun-size candy can be purchased for a quarter.

We actually started introducing healthy options on our concession menus two years ago, but the healthy items didn’t sell well. We soon realized that when patrons had the choice, they most often chose the unhealthy items. So, starting in 2013, the unhealthy items disappeared from Okun’s and New Century’s menus. And the reality has been, since those items are no longer on the menu, customers have not been asking for them.

It really was a decision of walking the talk. In our promotions, we frequently state that ‘Everything We Do Makes a Healthier You.’ Now we do so not only by promoting active lifestyles, but by encouraging smart food choices as well.

And it’s been rewarding to hear positive comments from our patrons. Like the high school volleyball player who said “Look Mom, they’ve got the calorie counts on their menu board!” And the 6-year old basketball player who excitedly asked his mom to buy him an apple - and she just as excitedly said, “You bet!”

When Fox 4 News recently did a feature story on the new menu, one of our volleyball moms was quick to give our healthy concession options a very high score.

“I’ve gone with my daughter to volleyball games and tournaments at many facilities over the years,” she told reporter Katie Ferrell.

“When I visited the concession stand here at Okun, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh.’ As a parent of a young athlete, I want to have healthy options for my child. She’s an athlete trying to perform and when we’re at a volleyball venue for the entire day, we want to have healthy options available.”

Given our commitment to improving the health and wellness of our community and the positive response the SCORE! menu has generated to this point, we are planning to expand the program to our other facilities with concessions operations over the next year.

The SCORE! initiative is a collaborative effort between JCPRD, the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment, and the Johnson County Access to Healthy Food Coalition.

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