In an effort to help reverse the growing epidemics of diabetes and obesity, the Tennessee Department of Health has awarded another three-year grant to the United States Healthful Food Council’s REAL Certified nutrition and sustainability best practices certification program. The continued $450,000 of funding will be over the next three years and comes through the Department’s “Project Diabetes,” which has the goal of decreasing the incidence of diabetes by increasing access to healthy food options and physical activity in the State of Tennessee.
“By improving access to healthy food options, we hope to decrease the rates of obesity and related diseases that negatively impact the health and well-being of families across the state of Tennessee,” said Dr. Morgan McDonald, assistant commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Health. “Changing food culture to a healthier default in restaurants is an important step in that process.”
Responsible Epicurean and Agricultural Leadership (REAL) Certified is a growing national program that works with restaurants and foodservice operators to promote healthier, more sustainable food and beverages. There are currently almost 400 REAL Certified establishments across the United States and Canada, with over 80 in Tennessee. In addition to meeting national certification standards, Tennessee’s REAL Certified establishments must implement at least one recommended improvement. These changes cover a variety of options to increase healthful and sustainable practices in each establishment.
“We are grateful for the continued vision of the State in understanding the important role that the food environment plays in shaping dietary habits,” said Lawrence Williams, CEO of USHFC.
The USHFC has also partnered with the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness, Tennessee State Parks, and the Memphis Business Group on Health to help expand the REAL Certified initiative broadly across the state.