Kaiser Permanente and the Oregon Public Health Institute announced that the cities of Donald, Independence, Lebanon, Dallas, and Coos Bay, Oregon had been awarded HEAL City grant funds to implement healthy eating and active living policies in their respective communities. The HEAL City Campaign, active in Oregon since 2012, is a joint initiative of the League of Oregon Cities and the Oregon Public Health Institute (OPHI) to help civic leaders create healthy communities, and is funded by Kaiser Permanente. There currently are 27 HEAL cities in Oregon.
The HEAL Campaign educates local officials about the unique role that city policies play in shaping environments that support healthy options for eating and active living to all residents, visitors, and municipal employees. Technical assistance is available for cities interested in becoming a HEAL City and to support existing HEAL cities in adopting and implementing HEAL policies. The HEAL Small Grants competition was the second annual grant opportunity for HEAL cities to seek funding to implement healthy eating active living (HEAL) policies.
“OPHI is honored to administer these grants, and to support the work of HEAL Cities as they implement strategies to improve the health of their residents, with a focus to advance equity. I am awed by the creativity and passion evident in the proposals that were put forth by these cities,” said OPHI Executive Director Liz Baxter. The HEAL grant fund totaled $35,000 this year. OPHI received twelve applications from cities in eight counties. Eligibility was limited to cities that had joined the Campaign before July 31, 2015. For information about joining the Campaign, please visit www.HEALCitiesNW.org.
An important Campaign goal has been to promote health equity. Throughout Oregon, low-income people, and people of color at every income, have significantly poorer health outcomes at every age, whether one looks at obesity rates, or rates of preventable chronic diseases like Type 2 Diabetes. While many factors contribute to these disparities, research shows that the environment plays a significant role. In general, community members most impacted by disparities live in environments with fewer parks, sidewalls and safe crossings, less access to public transportation, and fewer places to buy fresh produce and healthy staple items, and greater concentrations of unhealthy food outlets.