Salvation Army expands wellness initiatives by 65 percent

Health programs aim to fight obesity.

The Salvation Army expanded its health and fitness programs by 65 percent in the past five years, according to a recently released report, “Wellness for All.”

The report explores The Salvation Army’s efforts to provide individuals and families with programs that will encourage them to maintain a healthy lifestyle, ranging from fitness and athletics to community gardens and cooking programs.

“People in poverty deserve access to health resources to combat obesity and live long lives,” said Commissioner William Roberts, national commander for The Salvation Army. “The Salvation Army has grown its mission to encourage wellness for all—for the mind, body, and soul.”

These results come just as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a new study that shows the recent decline in childhood obesity rates in 19 states from 2008 to 2011. Currently, 87 percent of Salvation Army facilities offer programs like Kroc Fit Kids, an obesity prevention program. The Salvation Army hopes to continue to expand programs like this to further the fight against childhood obesity, especially within low-income communities.

The findings show that fitness and athletic classes are most in demand. Among the surveyed Salvation Army facilities, 73 percent offer at least one type of cardio or strength class. Examples of popular classes and programs include Zumba®, basketball, swimming and dance. Additional services include mental health programs, summer lunch, health fairs, aquatics and even services that many people take for granted, such as dental and hygiene clinics.

“There’s truth in the proverb, ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime,’” Roberts said. “We have seen remarkable life-changing benefits in people—weight loss, reduction in need for medication, new self-confidence and, of course, adding years to their lives in which they can spend time with loved ones.”

 Read the report at

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