Feedback from Fresh Food Fridays
A “fire of change” could be sparked in the way people make dietary choices with greater access to fresh fruit and vegetables, the Bermuda Health Council said today.
The organisation has collected feedback from hundreds of residents who passed locations where healthy options were offered for free.
Fresh Food Fridays was launched earlier this year and the BHeC said that each occasion offered another opportunity to learn more about “the psychology of healthy eating” as well as gleaning greater insight into the social factors that affect choices.
Lena Hassell, the health council’s outreach coordinator, said: “Increasing access to healthy food plays a vital role in the overall health of our community.
“We are revolutionising the way people receive healthy foods to make it easier for our residents to make better food choices.
“With healthier options, they can change their habits and prevent chronic diseases.”
The BHeC said the commitment was part of its goal of “a quality, equitable and sustainable health system”.
It said: “We know that an apple on a Friday is not a magic wand for curing our health system ills, but we believe that community-based action can ignite a fire of change in how we see our best selves and help each other in doing the same.
“We also believe that simple actions from non-traditional groups can create the momentum we all need to support ongoing efforts taking place at the Department of Health, churches and doctors’ offices alike.”
The health council started its initiative to help provide simple solutions to the challenges that some groups face in trying to access healthy foods.
It has offered free fruit and vegetables at locations including Bermuda College, Washington Mall, Bermuda Industrial Union, the Ministry of Health and the Bank of Butterfield over the past few months.
The BHeC said yesterday: “Through this initiative, we have found that there is indeed some reluctance to take free things and there are real preferences for morning meals such as coffee and doughnuts.
“There are actual inabilities to consume some of the healthy items offered due to their dietary restrictions, and there are indeed individuals who cannot bite into a hard apple due to dental issues.”
Among the comments noted from members of the public were: “I never eat breakfast”, “Wow, it’s free. Why?”, “No thank you, I don’t eat fruit”, “My co-worker said they were giving away fruit, so I came down”, and “Oranges are nice and all, but are you going to have watermelon next week?”.
Ricky Brathwaite, the BHeC’s acting chief executive and director of health economics, said: “I know there has been some criticism of the health council as a regulator of healthcare delving into promoting healthy lifestyle and giving away food to those that may find it challenging to afford.
“Of course, it is not the natural role of an organisation like ours to do these things, outside of Christmas time, while at the same time working to set the health policies that affect the country’s economy, businesses and communities alike.
“I get it, but when your team wants to do something in support of the people we hear from on a daily basis, and truly enjoys the engagement with the public that we are tasked to serve, I figure the smiles that we have seen and the questions that we are asked, are worth a little bit of criticism.”
The health council is encouraging residents to take part in the scheme and welcomed volunteers to their pop-up locations.
Anyone interested can contact the BHeC on 292-6420 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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