I was pleased when I found out about an upcoming opportunity for the Board of Supervisors to support a resolution proclaiming April as Let’s Move SLO month, as it is a little piece of a broader public participation campaign. This opportunity also caused me to reflect on what Let’s Move SLO month means for me as a person and as a supervisor.
Approval of this resolution established April as a month dedicated to encouraging community members to make decisions to improve their health and the health of their families. This informational campaign to inspire healthy choices is led by Healthy Eating, Active Living — San Luis Obispo County (HEAL-SLO). HEAL-SLO is a coalition that evolved from the 2005-06 Childhood Obesity Prevention Task Force, in which I — as an individual and supervisor — was an eager participant.
During the proceedings of that task force, I learned a tremendous amount about various individual, family, community and social factors that affect one’s ability to make and carry out healthy choices.
I have always tried to eat and exercise properly, but my current schedule and job demands make that very challenging.
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I know I can make healthier choices for myself. Moreover, as a supervisor, I believe that continuing to support community and policy changes to better enable county residents to make healthy choices is important — for our personal health and productivity and for the economics of our personal health and health care system. According to a study cited by the Center for Disease Control, the annual medical care costs of obesity in the United States are a staggering $147 billion.
For example, our local school districts have worked hard to bring fresh foods into the cafeteria, and yet only 25 percent of our children walk or bike to school. The county Rideshare program offers grants to help fund Safe Routes to School and we have successfully completed a number of “Safe Routes to School” projects throughout the county.
Also, about half of our residents commute 15 minutes or less between home and work; a distance that might be walkable or bikeable. This suggests that more bike racks and changing rooms are needed at work places, and that our streets should provide safe biking and walking opportunities.
Furthermore, farmers markets — the essence of fresh foods — exist in nearly every community in the county, offering a full complement of locally grown food. More and more markets are offering a greater selection of organic and locally grown foods. Additionally, a group of community members recently formed a partnership with the Food Bank Coalition and Cal Poly to work with local farmers to glean produce for distribution to food programs throughout the county.
I support creating healthy options for community members, including myself. I too will take the Let’s Move SLO challenge of committing to a healthier month and beyond. To participate in the challenge, please visit HEAL-SLO’s website: www.healslo.com.
Let’s Move SLO’s top goals
Drink more water, fewer soft drinks and sugary drinks.
Eat fresh foods and snacks low in fat and sugar.
Sit down to family dinners at least three times a week.
Exercise daily for at least 30 minutes.
Exercise with others.
Jim Patterson is a San Luis Obispo County Supervisor.