James Vuona, Fire Chief
11 Church Road
Shrewsbury, MA 01545
For Immediate Release
Friday, July 6, 2018
Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Shrewsbury Fire Department Shares Success of Nutrition Program
SHREWSBURY — Three years ago, the Shrewsbury Fire Department revamped its nutrition program to encourage better eating habits at the fire station that would reflect the lifestyle of a firefighter, which varies greatly from day-to-day.
Through lectures, group meetings, recipes and meal plans, newsletters and availability to answer any nutrition-related questions, nutritionist Dana Harrison — who specializes in programs for fire departments — developed a realistic and sustainable nutrition program for Shrewsbury’s 38 full-time firefighters, which has been in place since May 2015.
According to a study by the National Volunteer Fire Council, rates of overweight and obesity among firefighters range from 73 percent to 88 percent. Several factors can increase a firefighter’s risk for weight gain and obesity including shift work, chronic sleep deprivation and irregular meals times, which can all negatively impact eating patterns. This type of shift work and sleep disruption can also interfere with consistent physical activity both on and off duty.
“In order for firefighters to take better care of the communities they serve, they must start with taking care of themselves through the food that they eat,” said Harrison. “With all of the stressors that firefighters face, nutrition is a modifiable factor that can improve their overall well-being and help in adopting a healthier lifestyle both on and off shift.”
Shrewsbury Fire Chief James Vuona has taken a progressive approach by promoting health through National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) fitness standards and has focused on multiple initiatives which emphasize cultural change, accountability, and medical and fitness standards.
“The health of our firefighters is so important, especially given the challenges they face every day on the job,” Chief Vuona said. “Over the past three years, Dana’s program has allowed us to incorporate nutrition into the core of our health and fitness programs, and we have already seen significant benefits that I know will continue to have far-reaching impacts throughout the careers and lives of our firefighters.”
Since the program began in 2015, all of Shrewsbury’s career firefighters have participated and Harrison continues to pay regular visits to the department, hosting two large-scale workshops per year. By learning about the importance of good nutrition, firefighters have become more aware of their food choices and increased healthier cooking habits.
Recently, Shrewsbury firefighters participated in a workshop that included grocery shopping and meal preparation, applying lessons learned from previous nutrition trainings like reading nutrition labels, healthy ingredient swaps and creating a healthy and balanced meal on a budget.
Thanks to a generous donation from Whole Foods in Shrewsbury, each group was given a set amount of money to shop for ingredients to create a combined group meal.
For more information about Harrison’s firefighter nutrition program, visit her website by clicking here.