Healthy Parks, Healthy People

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April 21, 2011

On April 7, National Park Service (NPS) Director Jon Jarvis announced a major new service-wide Healthy Foods Strategy, to provide healthy food options to all national park visitors.

Jarvis made the announcement as part of the Healthy Parks Healthy People U.S. conference, a two-day forum in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area co-hosted by NPS, the Institute at the Golden Gate, and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. Attended by more than 100 leaders in health care, the environment, nonprofits, government, and business, participants discussed how the NPS can most effectively help drive health and wellness initiatives in America’s local, state, and national parks, and how parks can promote healthy lifestyle changes.

“The food we eat plays a critical role in our health, and providing healthy food choices is one way the NPS is working to promote healthy lifestyles,” Jarvis said. “The Healthy Foods Strategy will help ensure that our 281 million annual visitors have access to healthy, sustainable, and high-quality food at reasonable prices, while reducing our overall impact on the environment.

“This initiative furthers one of our goals of Healthy Parks Healthy People U.S., to educate visitors on food and potentially influence the choices they make after they leave the parks,” Jarvis added.

The first step in the NPS Healthy Foods Strategy is a partnership with the Center for Disease Control Epidemiological Service to conduct a baseline survey of the nutritional value of the food served in America’s national parks. In looking at the availability and cost of healthy foods in various regions of the country, NPS aims to make informed decisions regarding healthy foods in its concession operations and build healthy food requirements into concession contract requirements.

The NPS has already started evaluating the health and sustainability of the food served in parks. The new healthy and sustainable food program piloted at Muir Woods in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area is one of the first examples of how park concessions can effectively support healthy food choices. Food for the Parks, a new report featuring case studies from the National Park System, has been developed by the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy’s Institute at the Golden Gate and is available for download at

Modeled on the international Healthy Parks Healthy People movement that started in Australia, Healthy Parks Healthy People U.S. complements President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative, a multi-agency effort that has sparked a national conversation on how to conserve open spaces and reconnect Americans to nature. In addition to its Healthy Foods Strategy, the NPS has expanded First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program to include Let’s Move Outside Junior Ranger and is also forging links with other relevant parks-inspired health programs, including Children & Nature, Park Prescriptions, Food for the Parks, No Child Left Inside, and others.

“America’s Great Outdoors promotes greater access to nature as a catalyst to better human and community health,” Jarvis said. Across the country, parks of all sizes are engaging in dialogues and developing programs with the healthcare community, and private sector partners including Kaiser Permanente, UnitedHealth Group and Sutter Health, have stepped forward in support of NPS goals.

For more information on Healthy Parks Healthy People U.S., please visit or

Source: National Park Service

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  1. Tom

    One of the reasons I became a full time RV’er was to get away from the constant intrsion of the government which in my opinion are a bunch of know nothings who believe they know everything. Concerning food, if they say it is bad for you chances are it tastes very good, if they say it is good for you chances it tastes like licking tree bark. No thank you to any government recommendations

  2. The food we eat is NONE of the government’s business!!!

  3. Les

    My wife and I are 65, retired and enjoy seeing the USA. We also think that the federal government is trying to control everyone’s life. If people are intelligent enough to earn a living and find their way to their destination: job, park, home, school, etc, they do not need a nanny government controlling their life. It must stop now. People are responsible for their decisions. Educate with facts (not indoctrination and bias) and let us decide! Attempting to force people to do what a minority of people want is not the American way!

  4. Gale Green

    Hi. I’m new to RV-ing (with my partner) but we’re not “group” people. Please don’t try to “convert” us with all the benefits, etc. We like quiet camping, smaller (much smaller) groups than Good Sam is promoting for the annual bash in Oregon. What I’m wondering is, is there anything of comparable value that the Good Sam’s club could do for us “quieter” members? I’m sure we’re not alone. . . . How about reduced price videos of the informative sessions, or printed information available? Anyone else have any ideas? or . . .who to contact, or how. . .??

  5. Guys I gotta tell you I do not like the Park Service getting into the health business. I worked for the US Forest Service for 28 years and dealt with US Park Service all the time. They were always a pain in the butt, for me and for all their visitors. They are populated with left wing environmentalists whose idea of using the park is either riding a road or hiking a trail, no side trips cause you might damage something, no camping here because it is special, none of this and none of that. They think the NPS is their own little playland where they can cavort and have fun while treating visitors and others as 3rd class citizens.
    The US Forest Service, while it is fast turning into a “park service” has been so much more visitor friendly than the park service through the years, that it was a pleasure to watch the surprise on visitor’s faces when we told them “sure you can camp here, just clean up when you leave and don’t mistreat the land.

  6. Stuart Kaye

    Healthy food in a park permitting unhealthy (e.g., motorized) activity seems to be a bit on the silly side!