Healthy eating program launches in Neepawa

Helping Neepawa residents improve their health through nutritious food is the motivation behind a new project that’s kicking off today at two grocery stores in the community.

The Neepawa Eats Healthy committee has partnered with the Neepawa Gladstone Co-op and Neepawa Safeway grocery stores, along with other community groups and Prairie Mountain Health, to launch “Meal in 30” kits at both businesses.

Since March is Nutrition Month across Canada, Sherrill-Lee Hyra, health promotion co-ordinator with Prairie Mountain Health, said it’s a great time to offer the kits to the community. They will be available from March through May.

Shoppers can look for the featured Meal in 30 recipe, which will be displayed each month, try it at home and give feedback via a short questionnaire. They will then have a chance to win a grocery prize pack at the end of each month.

“It’s just giving families an opportunity to participate and to see that cooking at home doesn’t have to be extravagant. It can be simplistic meals that are budget-friendly and budget-conscious,” Hyra said.

While there can be many barriers to eating healthy, including busy schedules and a lack of cooking education, Hyra said the biggest obstacle she has witnessed in Neepawa is budget constraints.

“It can be challenging,” she said, “but even if we are on a fixed budget, there are opportunities.”

By taking part in the project, individuals and families can also build their food skills, said Amanda Naughton-Gale, who is on the Neepawa Eats Healthy committee.

It’s also a great chance for people to have fun in the kitchen and prepare healthy, budget-friendly meals with others, said Brittney Bartecki, a registered dietitian with Prairie Mountain Health who is also on the committee.

“We are encouraging our community to find ways to cook more at home, experiment with new recipes and have some fun in the kitchen,” Bartecki said.

Darren Roe, the fresh department manager at Neepawa Gladstone Co-op, is excited that his grocery store is introducing the program to a variety of different people, including immigrants and new Canadians.

“We have a lot of new people coming into our community. It helps them get acquainted with what there is to eat and what’s available in our store, and helps them eat healthy,” Roe said.

Anyone wishing to take part in the new project can pick up the monthly featured recipe at Safeway or Co-op in Neepawa, look for tagged food items with the Neepawa Eats Healthy logo on them, and take the items home to cook. People who purchase at least three of the items will also receive a Neepawa Eats Healthy reusable bag while supplies last.

Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun