Vinnies community hubs creating real health change

Vinnies Harris Park Community Hub staff and volunteers with Get Healthy information and free food hampers for those in need.

Community members in need of a healthy meal can access a free food hamper and health coaching this week at Vinnies community hubs in Blacktown, Harris Park and Penrith.

Thanks to a partnership with the Western Sydney (WSLHD) and Nepean Blue Mountains (NBMLHD) local health districts, Vinnies community hubs will provide food ingredients to encourage people to cook a healthy, simple and affordable meals.

This week, the community hubs and other local Vinnies stores will also offer sign-ups to the NSW Get Healthy Information and Coaching Service, which provides free, phone-based health coaching.

WSLHD Centre for Population Health deputy director, Christine Newman, said many people in Western Sydney are living with poor physical and nutritional health, with only 3.7% of adults eating the recommended daily amount of vegetables and only 40.2% eating the right amount of fruit.

The pack includes ingredients for easy, healthy tuna pasta.

“With one in two adults in Western Sydney considered overweight or obese, promoting good health in our communities has never been more relevant. Signing up to a free health coach and cooking with healthy food choices are small steps to build better health outcomes,” Christine said.

Vinnies Western Sydney social justice manager Janice Stokes added it’s important to work together to make life easier for those in need.

“People experiencing disadvantage can be ill-equipped to face life’s challenges and may become stuck in a cycle of poverty and despair. Vinnies community hubs are there to give a helping hand,” Janice said.

Vinnies community hubs have also changed their food donation appeal lists to encourage people to donate healthy food with a Health Star Rating of 3.5 stars and above.

The Health Star Rating system is a national, voluntary front-of-pack labelling system developed by Australian state and territory governments that rates the nutritional profile of packaged food and assigns a rating from ½ a star to 5 stars. The more stars, the healthier the choice.

“Health Star Ratings are an easy way to compare similar packaged foods and can help people make healthier food choices,” Christine Newman said.

“Until October 5, Health Promotion volunteers in Vinnies stores will encourage shoppers to look out for Health Star Ratings and to ‘try and swap when they next shop; the more stars the healthier’.

Community members interested in healthy eating and active living information can drop into the Blacktown, Harris Park and Penrith Vinnies hubs or Vinnies stores at Castle Hill, Greystanes, Springwood or Blacktown Mega Centre.

For more information phone WSLHD Centre for Population Health on 9840 3603. If seeking assistance from Vinnies, please ring 1300 VINNIES or 13 18 12.

WSLHD invests approximately $2 million annually on tackling obesity, and $1.5 million for the WSD initiative.

In 2019-20, the NSW Ministry of Health has allocated $36.6 million towards reducing the prevalence of overweight and obesity.