Henry Horton State Park Restaurant Becomes First Nationally-Recognized REAL Certified State Park
CHAPEL HILL – Eat REAL® announced today that Henry Horton State Park’s restaurant, The Governor’s Table, in Chapel Hill, Tennessee, has become the first state park in the nation to achieve REAL Certified Status, a nationally recognized standard for foodservice operations focused on nutrition and sustainability.
“At Tennessee State Parks, we have the health and wellbeing of our visitors in mind from the moment they enter the park,” said Brock Hill, deputy commissioner at the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. “This certification looked at our entire food service operation at Henry Horton to ensure we are being responsible, sustainable stewards.”
The REAL Certified program in Tennessee is established through a partnership between the Tennessee Department of Health and Eat REAL® and has recognized more than 100 REAL Certified foodservice operations across the state.
REAL Certified is a holistic nutrition and sustainability certification program for the foodservice industry, developed by Eat REAL® and modeled after the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building certification program. The REAL certification process requires a voluntary audit whereby an Eat REAL® approved registered dietitian reviews menus, ingredients, preparation methods and sourcing. Points are awarded based upon a wide range of criteria, such as the use of nutrient-dense vegetables, fruits and whole grains; scratch cooking and minimally processed foods; healthier cooking methods and moderate portion size; unsweetened beverages and healthy children’s options; and more sustainable sourcing methods, including local and organic.
Highlights from The Governor’s Table review included preparing more food items from scratch using locally-sourced ingredients; providing healthy menu items, including a full salad bar and whole-grain breads; offering well-balanced children’s menu items; offsite catering and superior waste management practices. Other Tennessee State Park restaurants currently in the process of seeking Eat REAL® Certification include Cumberland Mountain State Park, David Crockett State Park, Montgomery Bell State Park, Natchez Trace State Park and Pickwick Landing State Park.
In partnership with the Tennessee Department of Health’s Project Diabetes and “1305” grant and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Pick Tennessee Products, Eat REAL® Tennessee worked with The Governor’s Table to create a road map to meet a new level of foodservice standards, reflecting the mission of Eat REAL®.
“The team at Henry Horton State Park demonstrated an incredible commitment over several months to introduce healthier options and more sustainable practices within their restaurant,” said Nikkole Turner, program manager for Eat REAL Tennessee. “Eat REAL is proud of this partnership and to support their strategic improvements. We know they are leading the way within the Tennessee State Parks system to improve the health of visitors and grow the local economy.”
Since the inception of the Healthy Parks Healthy Person program in 2016, Tennessee State Parks have been dedicated to creating a culture of health, including within state park restaurants. Henry Horton State Park is one of the first to adopt a “garden-to-table” philosophy. The Governor’s Table garden, tended to by community volunteers and managed by conservation worker, Mark Matzkiw, is dedicated to growing, harvesting, preparing and sharing with the community that supports them. Restaurant staff work to incorporate foods produced onsite into the menu and strive to make sure patrons’ health is always a top consideration. In 2017, Henry Horton State Park received an award as the “Most Innovative Park of the Year” in recognition of their garden-to-table program.
About Eat REAL
Eat REAL® is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to transforming America’s food system and fighting diet-related disease. Launched in 2012, Eat REAL Certified™ is a nutrition and sustainability best practices certification program aimed at realigning the food industry’s incentives with consumers’ health interests. The organization has certified over 500 restaurants, corporate cafes and college dining services in 32 states, with financial support from the Tennessee Department of Health, the Park Foundation, the Mary Black Foundation, the Campbell Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President’s Grant Fund of the Princeton Area Community Foundation. More information can be found at eatREAL.org and eatREAL.org/Tennessee.