At the pools in Columbia, Maryland this summer a bunch of people were speaking my language. Not British English, but healthy American English. They were the guys and girls promoting HoCo Unsweetened – a team of people helping folks in the community make better choices about what they eat and specifically, drink.
Ian Kennedy, director of communications, explains their goals: “More and more moms and dads are becoming concerned about sugary drinks — the empty calories, the long-term impact on kids’ tastes, the potential for obesity. It’s just frightening. So we’re trying to do something about it in Howard County, and our HoCo Unsweetened website is part of that effort. The idea is simple: We want to make it easier for parents to serve the best stuff they can to their kids.”
They’ve started by building the Better Choices Coalition of Howard County, which is working to fill the county’s public spaces with better drink choices instead of having them dominated by sugary drinks. There’s a lot of other stuff here too, like the The Daily Conundrum, which chronicles the challenges of keeping kids healthy, and tips, like how to read a drink label and how to make spa water.
Ian adds: “That’s why we have the Better Beverage Finder, which lets you search for beverage choices any mother can love and find where you can get them in Howard County.”
The Horizon Foundation is leading the effort, but there are a ton of other organizations involved. HoCo Unsweetened are also getting a bunch of guidance from the experts at the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University.
And here’s a bit more about the Horizon Foundation:
“The Horizon Foundation is an independent philanthropy dedicated to improving the health and wellness of people living or working in Howard County, Maryland. We invest in strategic grants and initiatives that achieve the greatest impact. We also build partnerships and advocate for public policy changes that advance our mission.Since 1998, Horizon has invested more than $35 million in community programs, including grants to nearly 200 organizations serving the county, from after-school programs to faith-based organizations to health care providers. We have also spearheaded numerous successful projects, including bringing a federally qualified health center to the county and developing a nationally recognized community emergency response plan.”
So, next time you to go put a soda in your kid’s hand…think twice!
We actually banned our son from having soda this summer and it made a world of difference. It was his first major punishment and it saved us a fortune too! He’s now not bothered about it all, and simply asks for water. Great!