Health | National

Reno-Sparks Indian Colony raises awareness of health issues with hoop house

The hoop house is going up at the Hungry Valley Child Care Center at 9055 Eagle Canyon Road in Sparks, Nevada. Photo courtesy Reno-Sparks Indian Colony

The Reno-Sparks Indian Colony of Nevada is drawing attention to health issues in the community by building a hoop house on tribal land.

The hoop house, which functions as a small and portable green house, is going up at the Hungry Valley Child Care Center on Wednesday. Young tribal members will be on hand to learn about the importance of cultivating and raising their own food, officials said.

The message is important because the Hungry Valley is considered to be a food desert, based on federal guidelines. At least 20 percent of the community lives in poverty and at least one-third of the residents have to travel a significant distance to reach a grocery store.

As a result of the lack of food options, young tribal members are facing diabetes and other health challenges. Some 44 percent of the patients under the age of 18 at the Reno Sparks Tribal Health Center have been diagnosed as medically overweight or obese.

"This is an absolute crisis,” Stacy Briscoe, the diabetes program manager at the center, said in a press release.

By participating in the construction of the 14 foot by 26 foot hoop house, tribal youth will learn about ways to improve the food supply and about conservation of water and energy, according to officials. They will be joined by officials from the Department of Agriculture at the event.

“Because our community is faced with high rates of childhood obesity and diabetes, eating habits are very, very important,” said Kristie Messerli, a dietitian and nutritionist at the center. “If we can teach our children to make good choices when they are young, it will help them maintain a healthy lifestyle when they are adults.”

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