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True GRITS: Fighting Obesity in the South

It was a sunny and warm day in Frisco, Texas, on January 13. You would never know that it was the dead of winter. It was a perfect day to drive from Dallas to the suburbs well north of the city, to attend the GRITS Regional Summit on Childhood Obesity. Yes, that’s GRITS. No, not the go-to southern breakfast food, but Girls Raised In The South, hosted by Sisterbration, a nonprofit dedicated to prevention education for women and girls living in the South.

Sisterbration partnered with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office on Women’s Health and the Dallas Area Coalition to Prevent Childhood Obesity for an excellent day of awareness and education against childhood obesity. Shannon Jones, our section chief of policy for Southwest Region Special Nutrition Programs, gave a presentation on food insecurity, and detailed some of USDA’s programs that create a safety net against hunger.

At the summit there were an array of professionals who also gave excellent presentations on topics ranging from increasing physical activity to getting needy people access to local, healthy foods. One of the highlights was a presentation on working smart and reducing costs that suggested ways local nonprofits and schools can do their part in keeping the nation’s children healthy and fit.

Shannon Jones, section chief for Southwest Region Special Nutrition Programs gives a presentation on food insecurity to 30 participants at the Girls Raised In The South (GRITS) Summit in Frisco, Texas.

Shannon Jones, section chief for Southwest Region Special Nutrition Programs gives a presentation on food insecurity to 30 participants at the Girls Raised In The South (GRITS) Summit in Frisco, Texas.

From access to nutrition programs to local community gardens to new ways of maximizing physical activity in schools and after-school programs, partners shared many innovative ideas to fight obesity. Several USDA partners also presented, including Dairy MAX, Inc. They gave a presentation on Fuel Up to Play 60, showing how Frisco Independent School District was encouraging local students to make better food choices and participate in physical activity for 60 minutes daily. Students from Anderson Elementary, Frisco High School and Russell Creek YMCA Youth Action Council joined Rowdy, the Dallas Cowboys mascot, for a fitness demonstration during the lunch and press conference.

Seeing so many dedicated professionals in attendance and making presentations showed me that there are many people who care for our younger generation. Even I learned new information for improving my own diet and making an effort to purchase locally grown nutritious foods. This is the reason so many share a passion in caring for the children of this great nation. Without conferences such as this one, many would never know the resources at their fingertips. It was a great day for those fighting against hunger and childhood obesity!

Students from Frisco Independent School District jump rope at a fitness demonstration during lunch at the GRITS summit.

Students from Frisco Independent School District jump rope at a fitness demonstration during lunch at the GRITS summit.

One Response to “True GRITS: Fighting Obesity in the South”

  1. Michele Townsend says:

    I think community gardens are a wonderful idea. Gardening is not only a good way to provide healthier food, but the act of maintaining a garden can be great exercise in and of itself!! I would love to see our local schools do something like U-Mass @ Amherst’s permaculture garden. = )

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