National Nutrition Month, Purposeful Running Group, and Hunt Scholarship Focus on Healthy Living

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Establishing Healthy Living Habits Important at Gardner-Webb University

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. – The month of March is recognized as National Nutrition Month and also marks the coming of the first day of spring.  A group at Gardner-Webb University views this season as an opportune time to improve eating habits and exercise, while promoting and seeking support for a new scholarship which will also help spotlight these goals.

National Nutrition Month, now in its 40th year, is an educational campaign sponsored annually by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  The campaign is designed to focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and develop physical activity habits.

“We set ourselves up for failure when attempting to make sweeping changes to our dietary habits,” said Dr. Jeff Hartman, associate professor for the GWU Department of Physical Education, Wellness, and Sport Studies (PEWSS).  “I recommend that someone start small with healthy changes to their existing diet, and build upon small successes as they work toward a greater change in their eating habits. Don’t immediately swear off any food as ‘bad’, but instead limit its portion size and then transition replacing meals with healthier options.”

More physical activity is an important component to establishing healthier habits.  Hartman said, “Start small with exercise routines as well, while incorporating them at both home and work.  That means little things like taking the stairs instead of an elevator or parking farther away at church or a shopping center.  Turn off electronics and play with your kids, walk the dog, or plant and tend a garden.”

A group of faculty and staff members at Gardner-Webb have taken their dedication to living healthier a step further by being involved in the Purposeful Running Group.  “We started the group as a one time, half-marathon challenge that seemed crazy enough to work,” Hartman shared.  “It turned into a moving experience of faith, fellowship and fun.  Anyone can join the group as we focus on moving and miles, not time.  Some of our training doesn’t involve running at all.”

Since its inception in 2010, the Purposeful Running Group has participated in three half-marathons and has also added a fundraising component to the physical challenges.  Greg Poe, GWU director of planned giving, and Dr. Dee Hunt, dean of Student Development, established a scholarship to help PEWSS students with their educational goals and to promote active lifestyles.  The Dr. Dee Hunt Scholarship Fund was established by running group participants as each runner donated $50 toward the fund.  Over the course of three years, enough funding is now in place to endow the scholarship.  The first student will likely receive funds from the scholarship this fall.

“Hunt is an amazing educator, administrator, colleague, mentor and friend.  Doing something to honor her and the spirit of her ministry at GWU was well worthwhile,” said Hartman.

More information, including donation opportunities for the Hunt Endowed Scholarship Fund is available online at, while further details on National Nutrition Month can be obtained at

Located in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb University blends a liberal arts core curriculum with more than 55 major and minor programs of specialized study, a comprehensive academic experience that flows from our Christian commitment to intellectual freedom, service and leadership.