"More Counts" in improving the health of individuals living in Colonias communities

January 23, 2018

The Texas A&M University Colonias project “More Counts/Mas Cuenta” has expanded to include another 200 families from Socorro eastbound to Ft. Hancock thanks to a new round of funding from the Paso del Norte Health Foundation.

More Counts/Mas Cuenta first launched in 2015 as a way to emphasize healthy eating and active lifestyles in Colonias communities. More than 200 families and 600 individuals have been served through the project so far over the past two years.

Now, with a second round of funding from the Health Foundation through its Healthy Eating Active Living Initiative, the project has grown to include another 200 families within Clint, Fabens, San Elizario, Socorro, Tornillo ISD in El Paso County and Ft Hancock ISD in Hudspeth County.

“It is important to educate individuals and families on healthy eating and active living,” said Jana Renner, program officer, Paso del Norte Health Foundation. “More Counts/Mas Cuenta” program offers opportunity to families in the colonias, that have limited access to resources to have a healthy lifestyle.”

Phase 2 of the project runs through December 2018.

The project integrates proven behavior change strategies through evidence-based curricula including Body Works and Heart Smarts healthy lifestyle programs and organized physical activity opportunities for the entire family. In its work plan for the second round of the project, the More Counts/Mas Cuenta team has activities planned to emphasize healthy lifestyles. Those activities include:

  • Coordinating up to 12 cooking demonstrations with a local guest chef to promote healthy eating and the incorporation of fruits and vegetables in recipes for project participants.
  • At least two Family Fun 1-3K walks conducted in the target communities.
  • Eight weekly sessions that cover topics: Tools for Changing Habits; Basics of Eating Healthy; Get Moving; Serving Size and Healthy Food Choices; Setting Goals and Meal Planning; Shopping, Cooking and Eating Together; Types of Physical Activity and Media Influences; and Keeping It Up.
  • Participation in America’s More Matters Pledge: Fruits & Veggies…Today and Every Day!, and providing each family with a pledge that they can post in a common area such as the refrigerator to establish the habit.

Texas A&M reported that after the first round of the project, it saw a new understanding of nutritional fact labels among Colonias residents. Participants also reported a better understanding of the benefits of the recommended five daily servings of fruits and vegetables, a better comprehension of water consumption versus consumption of other liquids, and were able to see the power of influence that one family member who is active can have on other family members.

Now with round two underway and the project expanded into other parts of the region, More Counts/Mas Cuenta is sure to impact an even greater percentage of the Colonias population.

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