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Wellness in spotlight during National Nutrition Month

National Nutrition Month took center stage tribalwide for the Health Department’s Pathways Seminole Wellness Program in March.

Created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, National Nutrition Month emphasized the importance of making smart food choices while improving healthy eating and fitness habits. The mission of the organization, founded in 1917 to help the U.S. government preserve food and improve public health during World War I, is to improve health through food and nutrition.

The Health Department used National Nutrition Month to promote participation in its own programs. The Pathways nutrition program focuses on providing Tribal citizens with healthy, fresh food made with minimal ingredients. In Brighton, participants received three nutritious meals and snacks daily. Portion sizes were determined by age, gender and activity level.

“We try to work with helping them set goals we can measure,” said Barbara Boling, Brighton health education coordinator. “We consult with them on lowering blood sugar, weight loss and all aspects of their health.”

The fitness component of Pathways, a six-week poker run, pitted Tribal citizens against each other as they earned points and cards for a poker hand by walking 5,000 steps per day for seniors or 10,000 for adults. In Hollywood, participants received pedometers or Fitbit activity trackers to log steps.

“The Fitbit tracks much more than just how many steps they take per day,” said Lauren Goas, Hollywood health educator. “We can track so many facets of health, such as steps, monitor heart rates and see how well they work out and sleep.”

Because of its success last year, the poker program was repeated this year. Participants earned one card per week, and bonus cards were awarded for participating in special events.

“Everyone had fun with it last year,” said Jamie Diersing, Big Cypress health educator. “People got competitive with their hands. The turnout was pretty steady. They enjoy participating in the group effort. Sometimes it’s hard to walk on their own, but when they have friends or relatives doing it, it’s easier.”

At the end of the program, participants received recipes to help continue healthy eating habits.


Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at