Healthy Choices

It’s only been one year and David Milan can already see a big difference.

Students used to come to school and head to the cafeteria to talk and eat. This past school year, teachers and staff greeted students as they pick up healthy meals from Conestoga Elementary School’s Grab-N-Go breakfast program.

It not only provides hot and cold meal options, but also positively impacts the school day.

“I can’t say enough about the program. Staff loves it. And the kiddos start their day with food in their tummies, are focused and ready to learn,” said Principal Milan.

According to Milan, about 95-97 percent of his students want breakfast each day. The program ushers in a smooth transition for students – from arrival to the start of class.

Conestoga Elementary selected the Grab-N-Go breakfast program to encourage healthy eating and installed a bike rack to promote more physical activity.

“We knew we wanted to help kids live healthier. After seeing the success at Fontenelle Elementary School, we decided to join the Partners for Healthy Schools effort,” said Milan.

Their selections came from a “menu” of healthy options provided by the Live Well Omaha: Douglas County Putting Prevention to Work initiative. Other North Omaha non-profit, business, community, school and faith-based groups are improving the neighborhood’s health by choosing the options that work best for their employees, customers and organization.

“It’s time for a change,” said Thomas M. Davis.

Davis is doing his part as office manager at Phil’s Foodway on Ames Avenue. Leading the way to incorporating a checkout aisle with healthy options instead of candy and empty calorie snacks; and the designation of a Healthy Neighborhood Store, with more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy items for sale.

Customers are quietly noticing and buying healthy options. The store’s changes have helped him, too.

“I was taking eight pills a day and now I’m down to one.

I’ve tried the healthy food demonstrations and samples in the store and even made some of the recipes at home,” said Davis.
As part of Douglas County’s Partners for a Healthy City effort, businesses, such as the Family Housing Advisory Services, Inc., decided to provide a healthy snack option at staff meetings and events and installed a bike rack.

Bethel AME Church joined the faith-based initiative and decided to offer healthy food options at meetings. More apartment and multi-family units, such as Evans Tower in the Omaha Housing Authority, are going smoke-free.While healthy eating and increasing physical activity for schools and businesses are cornerstones of a healthy neighborhood, increasing the number of smoke-free living units and piloting clinic programs to address high blood pressure are other important goals.

“I just want to see more people making healthy choices throughout our community,” said Davis. “Just as our business has done it, we need other people to join us and do what they can to make North Omaha healthier.”

To find out more, visit partnersforahealthycity.org or call 402-934-5795.

by Jo Giles

Photo: Students at Fontenelle Elementary School enjoy their Grab-N-Go breakfast options. Photo By: Phil Rooney, Douglas County Health Department.