A Lifetime of Discovery

Happy Park and Recreation month! Celebrated annually in July, Park and Recreation month helps to highlight some of the great roles that our profession has on the community. This July, we are celebrating all of the “undiscovered” roles of parks and recreation with the theme of "A Lifetime of Discovery". This wellness blog will go over some of the health and wellness benefits of parks and recreation.

When discussing the undiscovered roles of parks and recreation, I first thought about all of the health and wellness implications that our profession offers that the general public might not consider. For each week in July, I'll cover a new health and wellness benefit of our field.

This week, the"undiscovered benefit" of our profession is parks and recreation being one of the largest suppliers of out-of-school time meals in the country.

Many children throughout the country rely on school cafeterias to provide meals. However, when children are not in school, issues of food insecurity increase. Parks and recreation out-of-school time programs oftentimes bridge this gap.

"Park and recreation agencies serve millions of meals each year to children in summer day camp programs, at drop-in sites at outdoor parks and pools, and across other nonprofit and city sites," according to the Food Research & Action Center.

This previously undiscovered benefit can be added to the long list of services that parks and recreation departments have to offer to the community.

Currently, there is a movement to ensure that out of school time providers are providing healthy options to their participants. Healthy Out-of-School Time, or HOST standards, were created by a national coalition of out-of-school time providers. These standards give out of school time providers a great resource to offer healthy snacks and physical activity to children.

Your program is eligible to become a Healthy out of School Time site if you:

  • Operate ten hours or more per week on an on-going basis.

  • Provide regularly scheduled, structured and supervised activities where learning opportunities take place outside the typical school day.

  • Occur before school, after school, weekends, or during seasonal and track breaks.

  • Provide multiple activities.

  • Include private and public programs operating in a variety of settings.

  • Programs settings include public facilities such as schools, libraries, parks and recreation, community centers, colleges and universities, as well as private facilities.

  • Providers include school districts, municipalities, national not-for-profit organizations, local not-for-profit organizations, faith-based organizations and for-profit agencies.

  • Deliver activities to promote positive youth development which may include but are not limited to the following: academic support; educational enrichment; stem (science, technology, engineering, and math), cultural and social development; recreation; sports; fitness and wellness

For more information on Healthy Out-of-Time Standards, check out our NCRPA Wellness Toolkit page!

Check back next week for a new "undiscovered" role of parks and recreation!

Until next time,


#ParkandRecreationMonth #food #nutrition

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