Archive for Thursday, September 12, 2013

Parks and Recreation plans healthier foods at city-owned concession stands

September 12, 2013


There's nothing quite like settling in for a ballgame with a healthy heap of concession stand carrot sticks.

Really, there's nothing quite like it now in Lawrence, and the city's Parks and Recreation department is looking to change that. Leaders are crafting a policy for city-owned concession stands at ball fields and recreation centers that will require at least half of offerings to meet nutritional guidelines.

Ernie Shaw, who leads the city's parks and recreation department, said his staff decided it was time to make a bolder statement about the importance of healthy eating.

"That's really the business we're in," Shaw said. "We want to try to make people healthier. We run programs for that, but what we haven't done for a while is educate people about nutrition."

Concession vendors still will be able to sell big, greasy cheeseburgers, said Tim Laurent, recreation operations manager. "But they're also going to have to offer a turkey sandwich or something like that."

The city has concession stands at the Youth Sports Complex, the Clinton Lake Softball Complex, the indoor and outdoor aquatic centers, and will have a significant concessions operation at the new Rock Chalk Park recreation center.

The change is not likely to occur until next year, when menus will start to feature items Lawrence residents don't expect to see at a concession stand. The city will require each concession stand to offer at least one fresh fruit or vegetable. Health beverages are considered to be plain water, 1 percent or fat-free milk, or 100 percent fruit or vegetable juices with no added caloric sweeteners.

To be considered "healthy" food will need to contain 200 or fewer calories, a fat content of 35 percent or less, saturated fat of no more than 10 percent, and no more than 35 percent sugar by weight.

The company that wins the concessionaire's contract will decide exactly what type of healthy food finds its way onto menus, Laurent said. The current contract is set to expire at the end of the year.

"Based on what I've seen at other places that have tried this, I've seen a lot of turkey sandwiches, turkey wraps, grilled chicken, fruits and vegetables are in there now," Laurent said. "We've tried some of this in the past, but we haven't really been committed to it."

Shaw said he'll encourage whatever company wins the contract to post calorie information for each product they sell. The policy also requires that healthy foods be priced equal to or less than comparable products that don't meet the health guidelines. In other words, department officials said, they don't want it to be more expensive to eat healthy.

Laurent said the department plans to accept proposals for a beverage provider — currently it is Pepsi — later this month. The department hopes to accept proposals from concessions operators — currently it is Hy-Vee — in October.

Laurent said he is uncertain how concessionaire companies and consumers will respond to the new policy. Johnson County has implemented a similar policy and had success, he said.

Lori Howell, the catering manager for Hy-Vee who oversees the concession stands, said it will be a challenge to convince concession stand patrons to buy healthier. She said three years ago Hy-Vee offered salads, fruit and other such offerings, but they sold poorly.

"I think people thought it was a good idea, but when it boiled down to it, they still would get the nachos or the hot dogs," Howell said.

Laurent said coming up with an effective marketing strategy will be key.

"How you spin it will be important," Laurent said. "Going out and saying 'look at our healthy choices,' may not be the way to go. The way Johnson County did it is they promoted these foods as foods that will help you perform.

"We're definitely going to try to make it popular. We have been talking for years about being a leader in nutrition and health. We think this is a big step."


David Albertson 4 years, 8 months ago

Greasy food doesn't make you fat. Insulin makes you fat. "Healthy" fruit juices and turkey sandwiches made with whole wheat bread make you produce excess insulin which drives most of the calories in to your fat cells. When insilin is done doing its job, you're left with a dip in your blood sugar which makes you hungry and then you eat even more "healthy" food, starting the process over again which leads to excessive calorie consumption. Eat a big juicy steak or pork chop with a side of leafy greens and you will be satisfied and not reaching for excess calories. It's really not that complicated. Sugar (even naturally occurring sugar in fruit juice) and refined carbohydrates (bread, tortillas, etc) are what's driving the obesity/diabetes/heart disease epidemic. Cut the insulin producing foods and your blood sugar, weight and cholesterol will improve.

kernal 4 years, 8 months ago

The problem with fruit juice is people think the recommended serving size is 8 oz., when it's actually 4 oz. plus they confuse juice drinks, which contain high fructose corn syrup, with 100% fruit juice which does not have added sweetners. The real deal must be labeled as 100% fruit juice in the U.S.

As for the whole wheat, the wheat grown today has been modified to a higher gluten content for sale to nations with malnourished populations, but the unforseen result was the fattening of our population. The other part of the problem is we eat a lot more wheat and sweetened foods than earlier generations and in higher than recommended portions.

gatekeeper 4 years, 8 months ago

Purchase whole wheat bread made with ancient grains. Dillons and Price Chopper sell it and it is so much better than name brand junk.

gatekeeper 4 years, 8 months ago

Greasy foods do make you fat. Try eating nothing but greasy food and see what happens to you. Yes, carbohydrates spike insulin, but there are lots of good carbs out there.

That juicy steak is still bad for you (red meat is so bad for your body). Don't believe me, stop eating it for months then try eating it again. Makes you sick and red meat is one the biggest causes of heart problems. Stop eating red meat and cholesterol levels drop (cholesterol is what blocks arteries).

David Albertson 4 years, 8 months ago

Your body CAN NOT store fat without insulin. Period. That's why people lose a lot of weight on low carb. There's no disputing that. It works. As for cholesterol, half of the people treated for heart attack have normal cholesterol levels. Half of the people with elevated cholesterol levels NEVER get heart disease. High cholesterol numbers are great for selling expensive statin drugs, not so great for predicting heart disease. In fact, women with elevated cholesterol levels tend to live longer than women with "normal" levels, according to the Framingham Study. Cholesterol isn't the problem. Cholesterol is there to fix the problem. Heart disease is caused by inflammation. The inflammation is caused from refined vegetable oils , you know the "healthy" oils we use in place of lard and butter, specifically the high omega 6 content. Another source of inflammation is high glycemic foods ( not all carbs are high GI ). That "healthy" whole wheat bread we're told to eat has a higher glycemic index than a candy bar.

jafs 4 years, 8 months ago

Yes, people lose weight on low carb diets.

But, you can also lose weight on other diets, and I find they're much healthier overall than many of the low carb diets.

For example, I've lost weight (over 20 lbs) on a whole grain/legume/fruit/veggie diet (vegetarian), and all of my lab tests have improved. In fact, I had gained a bunch of weight and was "pre diabetic", and now my A1c is fine.

I basically cut out most of the white rice, etc. that I had been eating.

Robert Rauktis 4 years, 8 months ago

If you're serious about influencing Americans to eat healthy, you don't heavy-handedly jam-it-down-their-throat". They resent it and only associate other wise delicious stuff with "good intentions". Like my sister who (thankfully) wouldn't eat lobster for their appearance, not to provoke a s discussion of the pros and cons of shellfish.

Shave off egregious crap to be sure, but there is a happy medium and one day at the fair doesn't mold life style. That's a fair's attraction, something different.

Besides, I'd associate a Lawrence approved diet with soft headedness and over budget.

nick_s 4 years, 8 months ago

City concessions at Rock Chalk Park? I thought Fritzel, er, Bliss Sports, had concession rights at "our" public rec center?

Charlie Bryan 4 years, 8 months ago

The Lawrence commission approved construction of a city-operated recreation center located at Rock Chalk Park. The KU facilities at Rock Chalk Park (track and field stadium, soccer and softball facilities) will have their own concessions operations.

rtwngr 4 years, 8 months ago

More feel good, plastic banana, good time rock and roll. Ridiculous.

Haiku_Cuckoo 4 years, 8 months ago

If they want to take away my corndog, they'll need to pry it from my cold dead hands! (And considering my dietary choices, that should be any day now.)

Marilyn Hull 4 years, 8 months ago

I applaud these changes. And I think coaches have an important role to play. My daughters played on a softball team that had brief written instructions for parents on what kids should eat and drink to maintain peak performance (no burgers, fries, soda, etc). The kids took it seriously because the coaches were serious about it.

Thanks, Parks and Rec, for making this change!

Karrey Britt 4 years, 8 months ago

Kudos to Parks and Rec for making these changes! Eating healthy is important to me and I seek out restaurants and venues that offer such choices! Thanks for making a difference in the health of this community!

alm77 4 years, 8 months ago

We love to be at the ballpark in the summer, but for 6PM games, we felt rushed to cook a good dinner at home and avoid the unhealthy offerings. But with turkey wraps on the menu, I think we'd probably just bring our wallets and skip the time consuming home cooking. I do wish they would get with the times and accept debit cards though. Who carries cash these days?

John Hamm 4 years, 8 months ago

Bubble-Head Bloomberg come to Lawrence...... smh

George_Braziller 4 years, 8 months ago

The company that has the concession contract with KU Athletics tried offering healthy options because they thought that was something people wanted. They dropped them from the menu after a year because they didn't sell.

gatekeeper 4 years, 8 months ago

Why people won't accept healthy options is because in school we were fed high fat, low quality crp. Many parents are lazy and feed their kids too much crp.

Once you quit eating cr*p and your taste buds adjust to real food, you have a hard time eating anything high fat, high salt, high sugar.

I learned the hard way after having an ulcer and going on a very strict diet. First time I tried to eat a burger, almost threw up. Everything tasted too sweet and salty.

Sorry, but we do need it rammed down our throats. Why are health care costs so high? Because we're a nation of fat, lazy people.

George_Braziller 4 years, 8 months ago

No, it's because when you go to a game it's an outing and an event where you can allow yourself to eat crap even if it's only once or twice a year. Hotdogs sell, veggie burgers, salad, and fruit don't and won't. You might as well offer fried liver on a stick.

The other part is the business and finance part of it. Anything that wasn't pre-packaged has to be thrown away at the end of the event. Can't even put uneaten jalapeno peppers back into the original container.

christinaholt 4 years, 8 months ago

Having more healthy choices available is a really important step in the right direction. Thank you, Lawrence Parks and Rec, for making this thoughtful and needed change.

Chris Tilden 4 years, 8 months ago

I appreciate Parks and Recreation's leadership in working to provide healthier options. I don't believe this is an effort to take away choice, but rather will enhance choices that are available. I imagine some "unhealthy" food items will, indeed, continue to sell well. However, there is emerging evidence suggesting that the demand for healthier options is increasing. Just look at sales of sugar-sweetened beverages; nationally sales of these products have been flat for some time, while there is a growing market for bottled water, flavored waters, etc. I believe those using our Parks and Recreation facilities will appreciate these efforts to make healthy options available. I also predict that incorporating nutritional standards into concessions and vending at these facilities will prove to be a sound financial decision, as well as one that helps promote a healthier community.

John Graham 4 years, 8 months ago

People talk the talk but will they walk the walk with respect to actually ordering "healthy" items from concession stands. I'll bet turkey wraps will be a poor seller resulting in a lot of wasted food.

John Graham 4 years, 8 months ago

Let the vendors decide what to put on their menus based on what the customers request and more importantly what actually sells. One thing for sure is that once government gets in the middle of anything, it gets screwed up very quickly.

Laurie Comstock 4 years, 8 months ago

I appreciate these changes—thanks Parks and Rec! Our system of providing care for sick people instead of trying to prevent people from becoming sick in the first place just isn’t working. People who want to improve their health or keep their good health are foiled at every corner—very few (and none that get you anywhere you need to go) safe places to ride a bike or walk, few healthy choices at restaurants, for example. The way I see it, the change here is not taking anything away from anybody but simply offering healthier choices. Because it didn’t work in the past, does not mean it can’t work now. Times change, people change. Maybe now is the right time.

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