Published September 28, 2015
GALLUP, NEW MEXICO – Most people know that eating fruits and vegetables is important for good health, but most of us still aren’t getting enough. Especially in remote areas on Navajo Nation, most families have difficulty finding fresh fruit or vegetables.
That’s why COPE is working to increase access to healthy food across Navajo Nation. In 2014, the Gallup based organization was awarded the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) grant from the Centers for Disease Control. Since the beginning of the year, COPE has recruited stores to participate in becoming Fruit and Vegetable Prescription (FVRX) Program redeeming retailers as well as Healthy Navajo Stores.
Small stores currently participating include Teec Nos Pos Trading Post, Totsoh Trading Post, Rough Rock Trading Post, Torreon Red Mesa Express and Counselor Stop and Go. Most stores have made an effort to increase the number of fruits and vegetables available for sale. Before participating in the COPE FVRX program, many retailers had few staples in stock such as apples, bananas and oranges. Now most of the stores are offering a variety of produce including bell peppers, zucchini, squash, lettuce, tomatoes, melons, peaches and grapes.
The Blair family, who own the Totsoh Trading Post in Lukachukai, Arizona, have gone above and beyond their normal duties. Even traveling more than 140 miles round trip every two days to restock their produce refrigerator. The demand for produce in the community has definitely increased in the past few months. Conette Blair, manager at Totsoh Training Post, said “Anything I can do to help our community become healthier, I will do.”
In an area where diabetes is prevalent, access to fresh produce is important. A healthy diet with plenty of vegetables and fruits can help lower the risk for heart disease and some types of cancer, help people maintain or reach a healthy weight and keep the body strong and active.
As National Fruit and Vegetable Month wraps up this September, it’s important for families to remember these tips throughout the entire year.
- Keep a bowl of fruit handy where the whole family can see it.
- Cut up fruits and veggies ahead of time so they’re ready for quick, healthy snacks.
- Challenge your family to try a new veggie or fruit every week. Remember, eating more fruits and veggies can be fun – and it’s worth it!