Normally, March is a month I tend to associate with Spring and other seasonal themes – such as eggs, peeps, bunnies, bees, flowers, sunshine… eggs.
But I now associate March with thawing frost, melting icicles, big puddles and the occasional maelstrom of turbulent hail storms, because of the natural climate in Germany.
What made March so important to me this year, however, was a small gesture that the dorm residents on base received from a group of volunteers.
Three dorms received free fruit, snacks and cooking utensils in a dorm outreach program coordinated by the 52nd Medical Group – with contributions from the base commissary – in the name of raising awareness for Nutrition Awareness Month March 3.
Nutrition Awareness Month?
For those of you unaware of this “nutritious” month, let me tell you a little story.
Several months ago, somewhere on Spangdahlem, an A1C struggled to understand what it meant to be healthy.
This Airman wanted to achieve, not just proper, but his peak physical condition, wellness and health. The only problem was he didn’t know how.
He wasn’t educated in the fine arts of culinary and healthy eating.
He wasn’t well-versed in the mystic sciences of intense exercise and blood-pumping, hair-raising, muscle-bulking work outs.
And most certainly, he knew close to nothing about the adverse effects that smoking had on his health (well, he kind of did, but he didn’t really pay much attention to it until it started to affect his PT.)
What was this poor Airman to do? Was he to crumble into a sad state of shameful lethargy and poor health? Was he to go on living his life as an unhealthy scamp incapable of reaching an optimal run-time? Was he to simply give up on life and smoke his lungs out?
Enter the 52nd Medical Group and their new innovative project for March: Nutrition Awareness Month!
The month raises awareness for all individuals about proper eating, staying physically fit, and the great effects of a proper, nutritious intake.
As someone who strives for peak physical condition, I was interested when I became aware of the events of this month.
U.S. Air Force Capt. Denise Campbell, 52nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron health promotions dietitian, brought me up to date on some of the healthier alternatives and methods available to Airmen. These would aid them in understanding how to live a healthier lifestyle, not just for the mission, but for themselves.
“We wanted to raise awareness with the dorm residents that there are resources on base to learn more about nutrition and healthy eating, and to provide them with healthy snacks,” Campbell said.
So how does handing out free fruit and tools help out dorm Airmen?
According to Ms. Claudia Fultz, a 52nd MDG credentials manager and one of the volunteers of the outreach event, the main purpose of the event not only offered healthy snacks, but also raised awareness of this month’s focus.
“We really had fun doing the outreach event,” Fultz said. “Most of the Airmen did not know that March is the Nutrition Awareness Month. I think by giving them some fruit and explaining them why, we made them aware about healthier food choices.”
Not just for eating, but for cooking, said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Kelly Smith, 52nd Medical Support Squadron pharmacy flight chief.
“It can be easy to forget to eat healthy, so this was a fun way to remind everyone. Plus, many dorm residents cook in their room so it comes in handy to have measuring spoons, spatulas, and strainers to make cooking easier,” Smith said.
Personally, I couldn’t help but feel a bit of mischievous pleasure as I watched the confused faces of my fellow dorm mates when they opened their door to be greeted with a basket filled with fruit and cooking utensils. But it brought me greater pleasure to see their faces transform from confusion to gratitude.
This event may have been coordinated as part of Nutrition Awareness Month, but I became curious of the coordinator’s intent and personal objective behind doing this at all.
“This is a program that we have done during March at my last base from 2011-2014,” Campbell said. “We had good reception there from the dorm residents, so we wanted to bring it to Spangdahlem. It’s an opportunity to help dorm residents keep a few healthy snacks in their rooms, and give them some kitchenware/tools to assist with meal preparation in the dorms.”
Fultz said she agreed with Campbell’s idea to encourage healthier eating habits among the dorm residents.
“I think younger Airmen prefer foods that reflect more of a fast-food taste, like hot dogs, pizza and an assortment of fried foods,” Fultz said. “So doing such an event to encourage them to eat healthier seemed like a great idea.”
March could be a month associated with colorful, smelly eggs or thinning ice puddles. But here on Spangdahlem, March is more than just about finding eggs before they rot or munching on sugary marshmallow treats and chocolates. It’s a month where we should be more aware of the food we put into our bodies and how important our health is to us.
Perhaps, today’s the day you finally take that first step in the march to a healthier life.