“Enthusiasm is the big thing,” said Dietician Nancy Smith, who is involved with Shape Up Walker County, a health and wellness program established by Sen. Greg Reed (R-Jasper) in 2011.
The program is administered by WATCH 2020, a coalition of health officials that aims to improve access to and quality of chronic disease care in rural Northwest Alabama.
Two months ago, an annual report from the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps program rated Walker County the worst in the state for premature deaths and overall reported health. Walker County fell two spots from last year’s rankings, from 65 to 67.
Garden Fest will be held at the Walker County Farmer’s Market on Saturday, July 28, from 8 to 11 a.m. The event will include food, music, games, vendor booths and a 5K run, which will start at 8 a.m. Reed will also speak at 9 a.m.
Garden Fest will also coincide with the Walker County Farmer’s Market and the Farmers’ Federation’s free tomato sandwich day.
Smith said the event will also include free health screenings and information about programs offered through Shape Up. Organizers of the event will give tours of the community garden offered near the farmer’s market.
“I think there are people who don’t know about the health and wellness resources in this county, and this is a great opportunity to inform them,” she said.
Other programs offered by Shape Up and WATCH 2020:
•An effort to put in concession stands serving healthful foods in local schools.
•Shape Up Shopping tours, where registered dieticians guide participants through a local supermarket and talk about the nutritional value of food and how to buy fresh produce in cost-efficient ways.
•Two local grocery stores Son’s Supermarket and the Jasper Wal-Mart have agreed to offer healthy shopping aisles.
•A community garden in which residents can grow vegetables, flowers or herbs at a raised bed gardens at the farmer’s market. Plots sell for $20. For more information, call 205-384-0606.
For more information about Shape Up, look for the group on Facebook at facebook.com/ShapeUpWalkerCo.