Harrisburg, PA, June 18, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The impact of the coronavirus has led to record-breaking unemployment, economic disruption, and food insecurity for more than 1.9 million Pennsylvanians since late May 2020. The Department of Human Services estimates that 1.8 million PA residents currently participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Over 695,000 of those participants are children. Helping families obtain resources during a time in which these children were not receiving school lunches became a real concern.
Harrisburg-based Pennsylvania Nutrition Education Network (PA NEN) launched a new website, www.BeHealthyPA.org, as a part of a statewide initiative to provide additional resources and nutrition education to the low-income residents of Pennsylvania.
As a Pennsylvania SNAP-Ed partner, PA NEN understands the importance of providing SNAP households with nutrition assistance resources. Once COVID-19 became a reality, the team gathered information from across the state with assistance from other Pennsylvania SNAP-Ed partners and shared them on their website. Currently, Pennsylvania has approximately 19 partners that cover over half of Pennsylvania’s counties.
Serina Gaston, M.Ed., CHES, Executive Director, has been instrumental in leading the organization in a new direction that not only provides resources so that families in Pennsylvania do not go to bed hungry, but are given the opportunity to learn more about making healthy choices. Gaston states, “From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic we wanted to provide low-income families with information on food access and distribution. As schools were closing, we knew there would be Pennsylvania youth unable to access school lunches and unaware of where to go to obtain food and we wanted our website to be a resource and assist in those efforts.”
Launching the “Be Healthy PA” campaign in 2020 supports the mission of the organization to provide education for residents to empower them to easily make healthy lifestyle choices.
The campaign’s simple but catchy tag line is “Healthy Food! Healthy Moves! Healthy You!”
The website offers a recipe database with a robust search engine capability allowing users to search “What’s in the fridge?” for easy, healthy recipes. During COVID-19, food availability and access have greatly impacted many families, so this feature allows individuals to be creative with foods they have on-hand or from a food pantry to dish up quick recipes that everyone in their family can enjoy. The site offers a Resource Map connecting participants to Food Banks and Food Pantries in their community.
The website is an integral piece of the Be Healthy PA campaign that participants will begin seeing Summer of 2020 that includes digital and social media advertisements throughout the state encouraging residents that with PA NEN’s support, making the healthy choice can be the easy choice.
The Pennsylvania Nutrition Education Network promotes communication among individuals and organizations engaged in improving nutrition in our communities. They work to ensure that effective, evidence-based, appropriate nutrition resources primarily for low-income populations are available across the state.
Karima Rose, ED.M. is passionate about providing education to residents to help them make good healthy choices. Ms. Rose states, “In a world where systems and resources aren’t equitably provided, I applaud PA NEN for its forward-thinking of launching a website that provides a central place for individuals to locate available nutrition resources for their families.”
To learn more about the Be Healthy PA program powered by PA NEN contact visit the website at www.behealthypa.org.
Visit Be Healthy PA on Facebook at www.facebook.com/behealthypa.
PA NEN can be reached at (717) 233-1791.
This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) through the PA Department of Human Services (DHS). This institution is an equal opportunity provider. View the full nondiscrimination statement here.
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