Healthy Families, Healthy Communities: a competition to improve health in local communities

As most of our communities return to normal, many of us are starting to focus again on health and fitness. University of Tennessee Extension is working on one community to establish good habits through exercise and cooking tips.

It is arguably the best kind of competition-- one where everybody wins. But, no participation trophies here, just better health.

Denise Payne was one of the contestants in a food pantry challenge in Sevier County, where she had to get creative with limited ingredients.

“They gave us just a bag of food and then we were to create however many recipes with it we could. So, I really took that to heart and tried to do my best,” Payne states. “I’m not sure exactly how many recipes I ended up with, but it was a great deal.”

UT Extension teamed with a local food pantry and the culinary program at Walters State Community College to stage the challenge. All to teach you can create healthy meals without spending a lot.

“We looked at how many they submitted, and then we also looked at if they were healthy, could they feed a family of four, how many recipes did they make?” Walters State’s Jane Overman explains

Another element of good health-- being active.

Sevier, Cocke, and Jefferson Extension agents have formed the Tri-County Trail Blazers. The goal is to get moving, but also just enjoy the beauty of the area.

Boogieing down Bruce Street. The walkers descended on downtown Sevierville to get in the daily dose of steps.

“I love being outside. I love seeing the ladies come out and getting some exercise, and just fellowshipping with each other. It’s a wonderful time,” Tri-County Trail Blazer Dee Shepard states.

As they walk, the blazers also take in the sites and learn the heritage of the town, including its favorite native daughter-- Dolly Parton.

Linda Hyder with UT Extension in Sevier County helped organize both programs. The family and consumer sciences agent is encouraged to see people active.

“You know we’ve had COVID last year. We’ve been indoors. We want people to get out and enjoy the outside. Also, just the value of walking, all the many benefits,” Hyder states.

Two related programs, stretching a bag of groceries and group exercise. Simple but smart ideas really, ways to get people focused on improved health.


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