Regence partners with Metro Parks Tacoma on healthy eating with Mobile Teaching Kitchen

February 25, 2020
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Slated to be on the streets in early March, the custom-built trailer will visit neighborhoods, senior centers, schools and monthly Metro Parks wellness events throughout the year.

By Regence

Regence believes that every partnership we cultivate, every dollar we pledge and every hour we volunteer makes the communities in which we live, work and play healthier. This post is part of a blog series that highlights how Regence is collaborating with community partners to positively impact the quality of life of people and families in our communities.

Metro Parks Tacoma has been creating healthy opportunities to play, learn and grow in the Tacoma area for over 100 years. In addition to maintaining dozens of parks that feature playing fields, tennis courts, swimming pools, nature trails and more, Metro Parks operates four community centers that offer exercise classes, youth and senior programs. The centers also offer community gardens and teaching kitchens where residents can commune, connect and learn healthy habits.

And soon, the new Mobile Teaching Kitchen will be added to Metro Parks programming, expanding the agency’s service to residents in east, north and south Tacoma. Slated to be on the streets in early March, the Mobile Teaching Kitchen will visit neighborhoods, senior centers, schools and monthly Metro Parks wellness events throughout the year. “The mobile kitchen will show people cooking options, including ways to purchase or obtain healthy ingredients from our community gardens or food pantries,” said Diane Brady, Metro Parks corporate relations administrator. “It will be a place where people can gather and learn.”

Regence BlueShield has invested $129,000 over two years toward the buildout and maintenance of the teaching kitchen, which will provide hundreds of local residents with access to educational programming and resources.

Mobile Teaching Kitchen debuts on Saturday, March 7

The Mobile Teaching Kitchen will be unveiled March 7 during the Seuss’s Spring Fling event at the Eastside Community Center in Tacoma. This free event is open to the public and will feature a variety of family-friendly activities.

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“Aligning with our commitment to address key social determinants of health in our communities, including food insecurity and inequity, we are proud to work with Metro Parks Tacoma to make this resource available to all Tacomans,” said Regence BlueShield President Tim Lieb. “This investment marks the latest chapter in Regence’s 103-year legacy in the Tacoma community.”

In a recent census, the U.S. Department of Agriculture designated East Tacoma as a “food desert” due to a lack of healthy food providers in the area, and low average incomes that make it challenging for residents to access healthy food options. In these cases, residents must travel further than most to access grocery stores or, more often, find that it is easier and cheaper to buy food at nearby quick markets or fast-food restaurants. 

“The implementation of the Mobile Teaching Kitchen helps remove transportation barriers for people who can’t travel to one of our on-site teaching locations,” said Hunter George, chief communications and public affairs officer for Metro Parks Tacoma. “We are focusing on areas that are especially underserved, where it’s hard to find full-service grocery stores and fresh ingredients to cook with.

Diverse cooking classes, health and wellness food tips, diabetes prevention, as well as classes focused on teaching kids to make healthy snacks, are all in the works. “It’s all about being relevant to the needs of the community, and going to where the people are,” added Brady.

Recently, Andrew Over, Regional Market Vice President for Regence, joined Metro Parks staff on TV Tacoma’s CityLine to speak about this investment and the impact of the Mobile Teaching Kitchen on the community.

Learn more about the dedication of this community resource taking place on Saturday, March 7.

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