Healthy Buncombe: The Fitness and Nutrition Coalition

Healthy Buncombe

The Eat Smart Move More Coalition

Fitness & Nutrition News

Stuff the Turkey – Not Yourself! Sign up now for the free Holiday Challenge

RALEIGH – Many North Carolinians gain between 1 and 5 pounds each holiday season. It may not sound like much, but most people who gain weight during the holidays never manage to return to their pre-holiday weight.  The statewide Eat Smart, Move More North Carolina movement is offering a free resource to help you stuff the turkey, but not yourself this holiday season.

North Carolinians are invited to join the fifth annual Eat Smart, Move More…Maintain, don’t gain! Holiday Challenge. Rather than focusing on trying to lose weight, this free six-week challenge provides participants with tips, tricks and ideas to help maintain weight throughout the holiday season.

Online sign-up is open at Only an email address is needed to join. All participant information is kept confidential.

The challenge will begin Nov. 22 and run through Dec. 31. People who sign up early and complete the pre-survey will receive bonus healthy holiday recipes and a shopping list.

Each week, participants will receive free weekly emailed newsletters with tips to manage holiday stress, ideas for fitting physical activity in during the busy season, and resources for cooking quick and easy meals when time is in short supply. A calorie counter, food log and activity log are also available for free download to help track your progress.

In 2009, more than 5,200 people from all 100 North Carolina counties and 47 other states took part in the challenge. At the end of the program, 82 percent reported maintaining their weight.

The Eat Smart, Move More…Maintain, don’t gain! Holiday Challenge is a part of the Eat Smart, Move More NC movement to increase healthy eating and physical activity opportunities wherever North Carolinians live, learn, earn, play and pray. Find out more at

Fall MoveAbout Campaign Rescheduled

Healthy Buncombe has rescheduled our Fall MoveAbout campaign to run alongside Eat Smart Move More's Holiday Challenge.  Buncombe County Businesses and Organizations can sign up for MoveAbout and take advantage of the great Holiday Challenge resources to further promote a healthy holiday season for their employees and members. Participants log their minutes of physical activity and are eligible to win prizes. The grand prize is always a WNC weekend getaway.  MoveAbout will start with the Holiday Challenge on November 22nd, but run through mid-January to help get the New Year off to a healthy start.  For information on MoveAbout you can or visit .

Cigarette ButtSmoking Ban Successful in Buncombe County

The North Carolina Smokefree Restaurants and Bars law went into effect in January, and complaints about Buncombe County businesses allowing smoking have dwindled.  

North Carolina is the first state in the tobacco South to make restaurants and bars smoke-free.   Local health departments are the enforcement agency for the law.  The team at Buncombe County Department of Health has been working for the last six months and longer to educate business owners and the public about the law.  “We have tried to bring as many restaurants and bars as possible into compliance without a penalty,” states Gibbie Harris, Buncombe County Health Director.  “So far, we have been successful.”

The law is complaint-driven, meaning that when an individual files a complaint about a business allowing indoor smoking, the health department investigates the potential violation.  Businesses that are not following the law receive education, then warnings, then fines for more than three violations.   The numbers of complaints being filed each week and each month across the state have been falling steadily and significantly since January.

In Buncombe County, we have had only 36 complaints against 15 businesses in the first six months.  “These establishments have been cooperative in trying to maintain compliance,” said Harris.  “None of them have received a fine due to a violation.”  This is especially impressive when you realize that the smoke-free restaurants and bars law covers more than 700 businesses across the county.

The air quality in North Carolina restaurants and bars has already improved dramatically. Air quality measurements taken before and after the law went into effect demonstrate that air quality in North Carolina bars and restaurants has improved by 89 percent since the law went into effect.

Michele Lemell, a local educator said, "I love that restaurants are smoke-free now.  We haven't eaten in many places in years because of the smoke.  My daughters were so excited that now we can eat at some of their favorite places and taste the food."

To learn more about the smoke-free restaurants and bars law, or to report a possible violation, visit or call the N.C. CARE-LINE at 1-800-662-7030.

For help quitting tobacco, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).

Project ASSIST Coalition Wins Prize for National Video Contest

Project ASSIST Tobacco Prevention Coalition won 2nd place in a national video contest sponsored by the National Cancer Institute.  The “Celebrating Smoke-free Voices Video Contest” was an opportunity to motivate women to quit smoking and remain smoke-free.  The video, “Because!” was produced by the Coalition with help from BCTV, the county’s Government Access Channel.

The top ten videos were selected by the Smokefree Women sponsors based on five criteria including originality, creativity, message content, relation to theme, and audiovisuals.  The public then cast over 14,000 votes via YouTube™ to choose the top three winners in each category. 

To view all of the winning videos please visit:

Project ASSIST is a local coalition of community members, agencies, organizations, and even youth who work together to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke and tobacco use in Buncombe County.

Buncombe County receives Eat Smart Move More NC grant to help youth move more and sit less

Buncombe County has received an Eat Smart, Move More NC Community Grant for  2010-2012 to fund local physical activity projects targeting youth ages 9 to 14.

Buncombe Safe Routes Safe Rides (BSR2) will promote increased physical activity among youth 9-14 in Buncombe County's Erwin School District.  BSR2 will bring a successful bicycle education curriculum to the physical education program and implement a safe-routes-to-school program supported by a school-based challenge to promote healthy active lifestyles. 

"I'm pleased that this innovative program has been funded in Buncombe County and believe it will encourage our students to be more physically active." , said Gibbie Harris, Department of Health Director. "Knowing the impact of this project through the grant's second-year evaluation process should give us valuable insight as we plan future Eat Smart Move More activities."

For the first time, the Eat Smart, Move More NC community grants are being awarded for a two-year cycle to study the impact the grants are having in the communities that receive them. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation awarded funding in the fall of 2009 to the N.C. Division of Public Health’s Physical Activity and Nutrition Branch to work with East Carolina University’s Department of Public Health in evaluating the program. Buncombe County will receive funding for program implementation in 2010-2011 and for data collection in 2010-2012.

North Carolina ranks 14th in the nation in overweight and obese adolescents. The percentage of children and adults who are overweight or obese rises each year and despite advances in medicine, the current generation of children may be the first to live shorter lives than their parents. Eat Smart, Move More NC strives to reverse this trend by making the healthy choice the easy choice.

The N.C. Division of Public Health funded 20 county/district health departments for the two-year grant cycle. The Eat Smart, Move More NC Community Grants support the Eat Smart, Move More North Carolina movement and Eat Smart, Move More: North Carolina’s Plan to Prevent Overweight, Obesity and Related Chronic Diseases, the state’s obesity prevention plan. This plan emphasizes strategies that make healthier eating and increased physical activity easier to achieve by, for example, adding walking paths in neighborhoods or around schools, or changing what foods a school can serve both at lunch and for after-school snacks.

“Making our schools and after school programs, our neighborhoods and our places of worship supportive of healthy eating and active lifestyles is important so that kids learn these habits early and carry them into adulthood,” said State Health Director Dr. Jeff Engel. “It also means each generation of kids gain the benefit of these more sustainable changes to our communities.”

All the funded projects are described on the Eat Smart, Move More NC Web site at Eat Smart, Move More North Carolina is a statewide movement that promotes increased opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity wherever people live, learn, earn, play and pray. The movement is led by a coalition of more than 60 organizations. For more information on the Eat Smart, Move More NC movement or to find out how your community can promote healthful eating and physical activity, visit on the Web.

For more information on Buncombe County’s project, contact Beverly Levinson, 775-1321.

Asheville strives for multimodal future


By Nanci Bompey
May 18, 2010 12:15 am

Paul Van Heden is a bus guy.

Strive Not To DriveThe chair of the Asheville Transit Commission relies almost exclusively on the bus to get around Asheville and is a strong advocate for growing the city's public transportation system.

But, although buses are his first love, Van Heden also realizes there's more to having a good transportation system than just pushing for more public transit.

On Monday afternoon, he strapped on his helmet and climbed on his bicycle to join about 30 other multimodal advocates in kicking off Strive Not to Drive, an annual event highlighting alternative transportation.

“Busing is my thing, but I also love biking” said Van Heden. “The cycling community and the pedestrian community and the transportation community are really working together very well right now. We recognize that we are all part of the same system.”

All three communities are coming together this week to promote a transportation system involving multiple modes of getting around town. Although Strive Not to Drive started as Bike to Work Day 20 years ago, the event now focuses on all forms of alternative transportation, including carpooling, walking, and public transit.

On Monday afternoon, elected officials and multimodal advocates rode on two wheels through the city to highlight the successes and challenges of making the city a friendly place to bike, walk and use public transportation.

The group stopped at a roundabout, a new bicycle climbing lane on Lexington Avenue, bike lockers at the Rankin Avenue parking lot and on Clingman Avenue, the site of future bike improvements.

“We've got a long way to go, but we're making good steps,” said Vice Mayor Brownie Newman. “I think there's been strong support for a long time, but it's continued to grow. People want Asheville to be a safe place to bike and walk not just because it's nice, but because it's really a necessity for public health and quality of life.”

Becoming a multimodal city

With more people than ever before interested in alternative forms of transportation, Asheville may be on its way to becoming a true multimodal city.

In recent years, the city passed bicycle, pedestrian, greenway and transit master plans, and is now working its way through them. The city is now also looking at ways to overlap the plans and consolidate efforts.

“We're moving in the right direction at a reasonable pace,” said Michael Sule, founder of Asheville on Bikes, a cycling advocacy group. “I'd like to wake up and see full implementation of the bike plan, but given the economic climate, since the passing of the master plan two years ago, we've seen steady improvements.”

Along with bicycle improvements, City Council recently approved changes to the city's bus routes and a marketing plan for the transit system.

The city last week opened a 1.2-mile extension of the French Broad River Greenway, completing the largest contiguous greenway construction in Asheville. It plans to break ground soon for the next phase of the Reed Creek Greenway.

“The shift has already happened,” Van Heden said. “I think our society is ready for it, but these systems do not happen overnight.”

A long way to go

Advocates, officials and city staff agree that while Asheville has made strides and interest is high, it still has a way to go before becoming truly multimodal.

A group of East Asheville neighborhood groups is organizing a walk Saturday to highlight the lack of sidewalks on Tunnel Road. Elaine Lite, of Asheville People Advocating Real Conservancy, said infrastructure hasn't kept up with the city's growth and not enough money is put into improving it.

“If we are going to really become a sustainable city and want to improve our relationship to the environment in Asheville, we have got to not focus so much on growth but on making what we have here more sustainable,” she said. “Bikes and sidewalks have been on the back burner for a long time.”

While money is a factor in improving infrastructure, efforts to increase bicycle facilities are complicated by the city's mountainous topography and narrow right of way, according to Barb Mee, a city transportation planner. Similar problems also hamper putting in sidewalks.

Steep terrain, high property values and little money for land acquisition has made it difficult for Asheville to keep pace with other municipalities when it comes to building greenways, said Seth Hendler-Voss, a city landscape architect.

“The most important part — the desire and the will to do it — I think we have that with the council and our citizens,” he said. “I think a lot of it is going to be the financing and the way we start developing out further. Asheville is still growing, and it's important to make sure that as a city we develop to include these alternative transportation elements into the plans.”

Buncombe County officials launch childhood obesity campaign

From staff reports • May 4, 2010

Let's Move CampaignASHEVILLE — Local women elected officials will be joining together for a six-month public awareness
campaign to showcase many of the innovative solutions happening in Buncombe County that address childhood obesity.

Each month the officials will visit and participate in a local effort that promotes healthy living and works to reverse the childhood obesity trend. “Let’s Move Buncombe!” was inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama national invitation to join her national “Let’s Move!” Initiative.

The campaign will focus on local initiatives in four arenas: helping parents make healthy choices; healthier schools; physical activity; and accessing healthy affordable schools.

Participating elected officials include: NC State Representative Susan Fisher, NC State Representative Jane Whilden, Buncombe County Commissioner Holly Jones, Buncombe County Commissioner Carol Peterson, Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy, Asheville City Councilwoman Esther Manheimer, Black Mountain Vice Mayor Joan Brown, Montreat Mayor Letta Jean Taylor, Montreat Commissioner Mary McPhail Standaert, and Weaverville Vice Mayor Dottie Sherrill.

For more information visit :