Recreation centres have a leadership role within the community to promote a healthy, active lifestyle which includes both healthy eating and staying active. In government buildings, providing Healthy Choices in vending machines, snack bars and food concessions is good for both workers and the public.  Healthy Choices are food and beverage options that support healthy eating according to Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide.

Stay Active Eat Healthy® encourages recreation facilities and local government buildings to make the healthy choice the easy choice for community members purchasing food or beverage products where they live, work, learn and play. The program also encourages a collaborative approach between industry and site managers to provide and promote a wider range of healthy choices. 

The program aims to:

  • build organizational and community capacity for action;
  • provide support to local government buildings and recreational facilities to encourage the voluntarily adoption of the Healthy Choices In Vending Machines in B.C. Public Buildings Policy; and
  • encourage the provision or promotion of healthy choices in all areas of recreation operations (e.g. children’s programs and events).

2008 to 2010

During its funding stage, between 2008 and 2010, 48 local governments, including 12 First Nations, participated in the Stay Active Eat Healthy® program.  These communities addressed food environments in 142 community-funded facilities, including pools, ice arena, multiplexes, fitness facilities, outdoor sporting facilities, community centres, band halls and other comparable facilities. Becoming a “Healthy Choice Facility” was promoted through:

  • Seed grants for planning and implementing healthy food and beverage options.

  • Planning tools and resources in the form of a comprehensive toolkit that helps facilities identify and take action on planning, implementation and evaluation.  This included carrying out a facility audit of their vending and food services, using Brand Name Food List and initiating an action plan.

The Stay Active Eat Healthy® website was created to provide easy access to a full range of information, tools and resources for industry, site facility leaders and consumers.

The Stay Active Eat Healthy® program was co-led by the BC Recreation and Parks Association and the Union of BC Municipalities.  It was one of five initiatives under the BC Healthy Living Alliance's Healthy Eating Strategy.  Funding was provided by the BC Healthy Living Alliance with support from the BC Ministry of Health.

2012 to 2014
In 2013, another phase of the Stay Active Eat Healthy® Healthy Food and Beverage Initiative was made possible through financial contributions from Health Canada, through the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer; Collaborative Action on Childhood Obesity (CACO) coalition; and BC's Ministry of Health.

Achievements included:

  • 12 grants were awarded to BC communities to implement healthy choices in their recreation facilities.
  • Training was provided to grant communities to make healthy changes to the food environments in their facilities.
  • Support and training  was provided to coordinators in Yukon, Northwest Territories and Quebec to make changes to the food environment in facilities in their respective jurisdictions (as part of the Collaborative Action on Childhood Obesity coalition).
  • The Stay Active Eat Healthy® website and Toolkit were updated with new resources available for facility staff.

Evaluation Reports
Evaluation Reports on Healthy Food and Beverage Sales in Recreation Facilities and Local Government Buildings were prepared for the BC Recreation and Parks Association by the University of Victoria - School of Exercise Science; Physical and Health Education Institute of Applied Physical Activity and Health Research.  Reports were written by Suzanne Vander Wekken, M.Sc. and Patti-Jean Naylor, Ph.D.