Coorong Healthy Highways

  • One of the local businesses serving healthier foods
  • The Coorong Healthy Highways app - helping to promote healthier menus
  • Serving healthier kids foods
  • Promoting the Coorong Healthy Highways program at local events
  • Eat Well Here - Coorong Healthy Highways program signposted
  • Local businesses taking up healthier menus, and serving healthier foods
Introduction

Coorong Healthy Highways (CHH) is an innovative partnership project led by the Coorong District Council, its OPAL team and local businesses. Its aim is to help local cafes, restaurants and other food outlets create healthier menus, and promote them to support healthier lifestyles for t Over the past decade the prevalence of diet-related diseases on a national level has risen. The initiative is an important project due to the increasing prevalence of national co-morbidities poor eating habits and low exposure of healthy foods. These issues affect all generations and statistics show that rural populations are at a disadvantage (see reference 1). This is due to a number of factors and includes low availability of health food options, low incomes and increased distances to travel.

Description of project

The Coorong district spans across 8,836 square kilometers and has a population of close to 6000 people. Towns are separated by large distances increasing the need for vehicle transport and reducing the opportunity for physical activity. Three main tourist highways run through the Council – these are the Mallee, Princes and Dukes highways – connecting South Australia to the Eastern States. With this comes the perfect opportunity to engage thousands of daily drivers along these routes, and at the same time take advantage of an increasing trend towards accessing fresh and nutritious food on the go. Coorong Healthy Highways has been designed around consumer trends that are shifting towards purchasing healthier foods over traditional takeaways (see reference 2). This is supported by recent statistics from the Dietitians Association of Australia, showing more than half the national population want to lose weight and change their eating habits to lead healthier lifestyles (see reference 3). The three key project goals are to: 1. Support business to offer and market healthier choices; 2. Encourage the public to make those healthy choices by purchasing food from accredited providers; and 3. Drive business to the door of local Coorong food retailers. The project has opened accreditation to food outlets in the Coorong district, which have healthy food and drink choices as part of their menu. The public can find out about these outlets on their mobile device using the Coorong Healthy Highways website (www.cooronghealthyhighways.com.au), via roadside and shop front signage, and when they enter a CHH outlet they will clearly see which menu items are healthy choices. Children and families are a target audience in our campaign therefore a large focus has been on working with outlets to create healthier meals for children. The project has helped introduce healthy kid’s meals and kid’s meal deals in to several outlets that previously didn’t offer them. The healthy meal swap deep fried options for fresh foods such as vegetable lasagna, cold rolls, salad sandwiches and wraps. Soft drinks and ice cream desserts are also replaced with healthier options such as water, fruit and yogurt. This project is unique to South Australia and is being promoted to a national audience through public relations and social marketing campaigns that are highly visual. The profile of the project has been built around the iconic Coorong Healthy Highways logo and has included investment in road side signage, mobile friendly website, printed material and merchandise. Local produce is also used and promoted where possible. Locally caught Coorong mullet is an example of fresh local produce that features on some of the Coorong Healthy Highways menus.

Project team
  • Coorong District Council
  • OPAL (Obesity Prevention and Lifestyle) Program
  • Heart Foundation SA Division
  • SA Health, Healthy Kids Menu Taskforce
  • Flinders University, School of Health Sciences
  • 23 Coorong District food outlets
Project cost

Media, branding and merchandise, website and promotions $30,000 This project is part of the OPAL initiative in this council. The project was developed and managed by the OPAL team.

Health value

Coorong Healthy Highways promotes healthy eating for travelers and the local community as well as active recreation and tourist places to stop for rest breaks. The meals meet the CHH criteria which have more vegetables per serve, use healthier cooking methods, use healthy fats and oils, swap white bread to whole grain products and encourage low or reduced fat dairy. Improving the health value of children’s menu by increasing the vegetable intake and using healthier cooking methods has been a priority of the project. Healthy kid’s meal deals have been developed to promote healthier options as many children do not meet the Australian Dietary Guidelines for daily vegetable intake. Water, reduced or low fat milk drinks and 100% juice products have been promoted as healthier alternatives to soft drinks and these also feature in some kid’s meal deals. Coorong Healthy Highways is helping to achieve a number of Coorong District Council’s strategic objectives with respect to community wellbeing (see references). This project promotes active and healthy lifestyles and addresses the core services of youth and community development. The project also contributes to the Coorong District Council meeting two of the four main objectives in the Murray and Mallee LGA Regional Public Health Plan (see references). These are: • Increasing opportunities for healthy living, healthy eating and being active. • Stronger and healthier communities and neighbourhoods for all generations.

Economic value

This project not only offers the benefit of helping to create a healthier population, but aims to also bring more customers to accredited Coorong Healthy Highways outlets. There are great economic outcomes for the Coorong district, with small businesses becoming more attractive ‘rest stops’ for traffic along the Mallee, Dukes and Princes highways. During peak periods, more than 4500 vehicles per day are exposed to the Coorong Healthy Highways project.

Environmental value

Coorong Healthy Highways promotes the use of local fresh produce when developing healthy menu items which reduces the carbon footprint from food production.

Social value

Coorong Healthy Highways is heavily reliant on the support of social media networks, namely Facebook and Instagram, and social media buy in from people visiting the food outlets and reporting on their experiences. The community has been encouraged to use #cooronghealthyhighways to keep the conversation going. The Coorong District Council uses Instagram and a Facebook page with over 5000 followers, as a platform to interact with the community to share Coorong Healthy Highways information, food experiences, healthy food photos and gather feedback.

Use value

The core of Coorong Healthy Highways is the mobile friendly website that has been designed to be simple and user friendly. As the majority of the population now has access to a smart phone or tablet, the website is now easily accessible and has been designed to appeal to a wide demographic. www.cooronghealthyhighways.com.au

References

[1] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Government; 2014. Australian Food and Nutrition [January 30th 2017].Available from; http://www.aihw.gov.au/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=10737422837 [2] Canberra Times [Internet] Canberra times: 2014 Austrlia’s fast-food market getting smaller, healthier and more diverse; 2014 [January 30th 2017] Available from: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/australias-fastfood-market-is-getting-smaller-healthier-and-more-diverse-20140501-zr2j7.html [3]Dietician Association of Australia. Media release: cooking at home=prescription for healthy weight in 2016 [Internet]. Canberra: DAA; 2016 February [cited 2017 Januaty 30]. Available from: http://healthyweightweek.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Cooking-at-home-prescription-for-good-health-FINAL.pdf www.cooronghealthyhighways.com.au [4] Coorong District Council [Internet]. Coorong District Council 2016-2020 Strategic Management Plan, p11. Available from: https://www.coorong.sa.gov.au/webdata/resources/files/2016%20-%202020%20Strategic%20Management%20Plan.pdf [5] Murray and Mallee LGA Regional Public Health Plan 2013-2018 [Internet]. Available from: https://www.mid-murray.sa.gov.au/webdata/resources/files/Murray%20and%20Mallee%20Regional%20Public%20Health%20Plan.pdf

Type of project
Local Government Initiative, Programs
Scale of project
Local Area
Location
Regional