Physical Activity and Nutrition Program Quarterly News

News from the Physical Activity and Nutrition Program
After such a long winter, and now that summer is fully upon us, there is much to celebrate. One of our family traditions in the summer is to spend time each Saturday at the local farmer’s market. I love watching the growing season unfold week by week, with garden plants and early greens in May; peas, strawberries and asparagus soon after; and then tomatoes, squash, kale, carrots… everything you could ever need or want. We love going with no real plan, buying just what we’ll use and take it home for the next few lunches and dinners. Make this a habit in your household, and participate with me in choosing at least one item each week that you have never tried. The farmers always have great preparation suggestions! Here is a list of farmer’s markets so you can find one close by, or near your weekend destination.

Sue Kamp

Physical Activity and Nutrition Program Administrator

Healthy Communities

Healthy Food and Beverages Store Audit Results

During the fall of 2014 the Vermont Department of Health’s community based prevention programs audited all of Vermont’s retail outlets licensed to sell tobacco to better understand the types and amounts of tobacco and alcohol products and advertising inside and outside stores, and to gather data about the types of non- alcoholic beverages and healthy food options that are available. Store audit teams completed 477 nutrition audits in convenience stores (371), and small grocery stores (106).

What were we looking for?

Because of limited space, the PAN program focused on fruits, vegetables and dairy products for food;  water, soda, other sugar sweetened beverages, 100% fruit juice, and milk for beverages. We also included local produce. The audit questions included fresh, canned, frozen fruits and vegetables, prices of beverages by size and promotion of healthy foods. Click here for definitions and findings.


What did we learn?

Overall, food availability was not affected by county income level but we did find that unhealthy foods were available more often in rural counties where people tend to have less access to full scale grocery stores. While most stores carried plain vegetables (90%) and plain fruit (80%), only 11% of stores overall promoted their produce.

Vermonters love local products. Our audits found locally-grown vegetables were available in only 12% of stores and locally-grown fruit in 10%. Admittedly, the time of year the audits were conducted may have played a role, but we think this provides evidence that there is room to grow!

Regarding beverages, we found all stores audited carried all of the type of beverages on the audit list, with the exception of light milk available in 95% of stores.  Unfortunately, unhealthy beverages were found to be available in single-serving sizes more frequently (85%) than healthy beverages (56%), but single-serving prices of healthy beverages were slightly less than unhealthy beverages. This is good news – we pay a bit less for a bottle of water than a soda. 

What does this mean?  



The audits revealed some positive trends: most stores carried plain (no added sauces) vegetables and plain fruit, and healthy beverages are less expensive than unhealthy. Yet there are opportunities for improvement.

Surveys conducted by both the Vermont Department of Health and Farm to Plate show that both retailers and consumers welcome local products. This project confirmed that there is quite a bit of room for growth in making local, healthy food more available in convenience and small grocery stores. The State will continue to develop tools and resources to increase local food in stores, and local stores, farmers and community members can work on this as well. See resources from the Farm to Plate Retailer Work Group for ideas or ways to get involved.

Finally, stores offer healthy options. Simply promoting what they have could go a long way toward customers purchasing those items.  Next time you are in your local store and notice healthy food not being promoted, suggest the retailer highlight those options. They may sell more and community members will eat healthier! See the Vermont Department of Health’s Healthy Retailer Initiative for ways to get started. 


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Vermont Student Cycles to School Every Day
Congratulations to Nolan Myers, a student from Orleans, VT, who not only had perfect attendance this past school year, but rode his bike to school every day! We are very proud of Nolan’s attendance and biking record. For more about Nolan and his dedication to riding, see this WCAX story.

School Wellness Policy Guidelines
We are pleased to let you know that the new School Wellness Policy Guidelines are now available on our website. These Guidelines were developed in collaboration with the Vermont Agency of Education and Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets. They will provide assistance to local wellness teams working to update their Supervisory Union or School District wellness policies so that they comply with the National School Lunch Program requirements. The policy requirement, recommended strategies, sample policy language and many links to resources are all included in the Guidelines. The policies cover nutrition education, nutrition promotion, guidelines for all foods available on school campuses, physical education, physical activity and other school-based activities to promote student wellness. In addition to these Guidelines, we are always ready to help you as you consider school wellness. Contact Sue Kamp with any questions.

Nutrition News

Healthy Food in Vermont State Parks

The Physical Activity and Nutrition Program has partnered with the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation to enhance and expand a Healthy Concessions Initiative in Vermont State Parks.  This initiative began as a pilot project a few years ago in a few state parks operating food concessions and is now being further developed to expand healthy options to all state parks operating or contracting food concessions.

The PAN program helped create a list of possible concession items using the Nutrition Environment Measures Survey which divides food and beverages into color codes (red, yellow or green) based on their nutritional profile.



The healthy concessions initiative is still in its infancy and will continue to make strides this summer with purchasing, point of decision prompting, marketing and tracking mechanisms. It is a goal to create an implementation guide by fall, 2016.

Boosting Protein in Summer Salads

Tis’ the season for fresh fruits and veggies! With the summer months upon us, Vermonters gain access to locally grown produce. Arriving alongside the fresh produce are ample opportunities to get outside and be active. Research supports that having extra protein helps to keep active muscles in prime condition, and one way to make the most of Vermont’s delicious local bounty is to prepare fresh, protein-filled salads.

Next time you sit down to a bowl of greens, try adding half-a-cup of cooked beans, which can contribute eight grams of protein. Likewise, half-a-cup of cubed tofu can add ten grams, and a half-a-cup of chicken can add 18 grams of protein! If you’re not a fan of these foods, you could try adding cubed reduced fat cheese for a health-conscious protein boost. Accompany your salad with a cup of reduced fat cottage cheese or Greek yogurt mixed with fresh or frozen berries and a quarter-cup of nuts to provide up to a whopping 23 grams of protein!

This summer, take advantage of all that Vermont has to offer – from the rolling green hillsides built for hikes and bikes, to the fields of local produce that can fill your plate with delicious, fresh nutrition!

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Funding News

Working Toward Wellness Grant Winners Announced

The Vermont Department of Health has awarded seven grants to small businesses to create worksite wellness programs. The ‘Working Toward Wellness’ grants provide funding and technical assistance for organizations and businesses to develop workplace wellness programs at sites across the state.

The Working Toward Wellness grantees:

– Sunrise Family Resource Center in Bennington

– Youth Services in Brattleboro

– United Ways of Vermont in Essex Junction

– Champlain Orchards in Shoreham

– Lamoille Restorative Center in Hyde Park

– Gilman Housing Trust/Rural Edge in Lyndonville

– Northeast Family Institute/Turning Points in Newport

Worksites will be given a one-time award of $3,000 to help start up a wellness program with a focus on increasing the physical activity and healthy eating opportunities for employees. Worksites will be matched with Health Department staff from their area district office who will work closely with them throughout the grant year to:

– Compose a wellness team

– Identify the wellness needs of the company and employees

– Create goals for the program

– Plan and implement wellness programming

– Evaluate efforts

A workplace wellness program can have many benefits for a business and its employees. The programs routinely increase employee engagement and camaraderie, and can lead to measureable health outcomes.  Grant winners were selected based on readiness to develop a worksite wellness program, including support from leadership, employee engagement, and ideas about what they want a wellness program to include.

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In This Issue



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Vermont Department of Health: Physical Activity and Nutrition | |
108 Cherry Street
Suite 203
Burlington, VT 05401

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