WAMDA members pull together to fight food insecurity in the region

As winter begins to wind down and we turn the calendar over to March, the milder weather allows most of us the much-anticipated opportunity to get out and get active. For the dedicated members of the Western Area Massachusetts Dietetic Association (WAMDA), it’s the perfect time to highlight the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. That’s why, for the past 26 years, they have partnered with (and supported) The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts for their annual charity run.

WAMDA member Christine King (#102) has run in each of the 25 previous WAMDA 5K Run/Walk events.

The WAMDA 5K Run/Walk and Health Fair is held on the first Saturday in March during National Nutrition Month. Each year, hundreds of runners of all ages converge on Look Park in Florence to support this exciting event, with all proceeds benefiting The Food Bank. Since the first race in 1993, the annual event has raised approximately $50,000 to help feed our neighbors in need (the equivalent of 150,000 meals). Through this partnership, nutritious food is made accessible to all residents throughout Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire counties.

Christine King, an active member of WAMDA for the past forty years and current registered dietitian at Fresenius Kidney Care (in Palmer, MA), holds a special place in the history of this run. Not only did she help chair the event when it first began, but also has run in every one of the past twenty-five races. As someone who’s always been interested in fitness, she started running as a stress release while attending college at University of Connecticut, and hasn’t stopped since.

When she helped organize the run in its early years, the health care aspect of the event was very important to Christine. She was adamant that WAMDA needed to represent their profession and their efforts to encourage healthy eating. She worked to get the experts — registered dietitians and technicians — to have booths at the health fair as an educational component.

“The goal was always to promote nutrition and fitness,” explains Christine. “To have a healthy lifestyle, you really need both. Through the health fair, we try to plant that little seed that they make a commitment to try to improve their lifestyle.”

The long-standing partnership between WAMDA and The Food Bank is a natural collaboration between two organizations sharing the same goal.  As the leader of the emergency food network in western Massachusetts, The Food Bank is committed to addressing the connection between food and health. Led by two on-staff registered nutritionists, our Nutrition Education team presents a variety of programs and workshops in the region, aimed at helping people develop healthier eating and shopping habits. We work directly with community partners, member agencies and clients to provide cooking demonstrations, grocery store tours, healthy food sampling, ServSafe certification, and more. By raising awareness of the connection between food and health, we can begin to address the importance of proper nutrition and provide clients with the knowledge they need to make healthy choices.

“What makes this [5K run] special is supporting the cause of fighting food insecurity in the region,” says Christine. “WAMDA membership pulls together and brings family and friends and outreach to the community to get people more aware of, and involved in, their own personal health through education.”

This year’s WAMDA 5K Run/Walk and Health Fair takes place on Saturday, March 2. Registration is open now thru March 1. The health fair begins at 9:00 a.m. at The Garden House at Look Park (Florence, MA), and the race begins at 11:00.