By Joseph Robertia
Ben Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Building on that idea, the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank is hoping people will shed a few pounds to give them a financial boost as part of the Pound For Pound Challenge.
“With the holidays behind us, it’s the time of year where we’re experiencing a shortage of donations, so this could really help out,” said Holly Flynn, an AmeriCorps member performing her service hours at the food bank.
The challenge stems from the popularity of the television show “The Biggest Loser,” in which overweight contestants attempt to lose weight to compete for a cash prize. The Pound For Pound Challenge encourages people to go online and pledge to lose weight to help feed people locally.
Individuals and groups are welcome to participate. Teams formed may consist of family members, friends or groups of employees. People can also participate by pledging to maintain a healthy weight, which earns a 5-pound grocery donation to the local food bank.
“For every pound you pledge to lose (through May 31, 2011), the Pound For Pound Challenge will donate 11 cents to Feeding America — enough to secure 1 pound of groceries on behalf of local food banks, and we’re the only one registered in Alaska,” Flynn said.
Feeding America is one of the leading domestic hunger relief charities in the nation. The maximum donation that will be given by the group is $1,040,000.
Teams can register and track their progress at http://www.pfpchallenge.com.
“This will really help us and the people of this area,” Flynn said.
In conjunction with the challenge, the food bank also kicked off an eight-week course on healthy eating Monday, and it’s not too late to still participate.
“People can come to one or all of them,” Flynn said.
The classes are taught by Colleen Sonnevil, a nutrition educator with the University of Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service.
“I’m giving the class to support the challenge,” she said. “It will focus on eating healthy, losing weight and how to cook healthy after the challenge to keep the weight off.”
The classes will be divided into two main themes.
“The first half will focus on how to change recipes to support weight loss and how to understand portion sizes while dieting and after dieting,” she said. “The second half will focus on basic strength-training exercises and the importance of them to a weight-loss plan.”
Since the class is intended to help people involved with the weight-loss challenge, Sonnevil said it could go longer than eight weeks if people expressed an interest in continuing it.
“Since the challenge goes until the end of May, if people need the class, I’ll keep it going longer to support their attempt to get healthy,” she said.
The classes are Mondays from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and timed to conclude right when the food bank’s Fireweed Diner opens to offer a nutritious meal. At noon, Sonnevil will also give a demonstration on how people can use the items in the food bank’s commodity boxes in new and innovative ways.
“It’ll focus on how to prepare food without it being the same old, same old,” she said. “For example, pork sausage, dried prunes and apple juice are usually put together, but I have a recipe where I cook the prunes in the juice, then mash it down into a sauce, which goes with the cooked sausage to make a delicious dinner.”
Sonnevil said her hope is people will tie all of this information together with the challenge to create a better lifestyle for themselves and others.
“It’s a way for people to do something healthy for themselves and something nice for the food bank at the same time,” she said.