One goal that has emerged from HEAT is to improve health by improving the local food environment. Three HEAT partners—the Leon County Health Department, Greater Frenchtown Revitalization Council, and the University of Florida—are collaborating on research funded by the Blue Foundation to understand how the food environment constrains healthy food choices in Tallahassee. A related group has initiated a local Food Council, which aims to improve access to healthy and sustainable foods in Leon County.
So many people and organizations will be interested in a new report just released by the Prevention Institute, “Recipes for Change: Healthy Food in Every Community.” As the Prevention Institute explains, “The paper outlines organizational practices and public policies to expand access to healthy foods in support of healthy eating and better overall health.” The report provides recommendations for creating healthy food retail environments, increasing access to healthy foods in schools and other public institutions, reforming federal food and nutrition assistance programs, and supporting regional food systems and agriculture. The overarching goal is to build a healthier food system in the United States, with a focus on increasing access to healthy foods in low-income communities and communities of color.
See the Prevention Institute website for more.
Reducing childhood obesity is a recognized public health priority in the U.S. as a whole and in Leon County in particular. Many HEAT partners are involved in work to address this problem, and we will soon learn whether our application to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will result in new funding for policy advocacy to improve the local food environment.
A recent report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) will be useful in our efforts. The report outlines actions that local governments can take to curb childhood obesity. As the IOM explains:
The committee sought action steps that are within the jurisdiction of local governments; likely to directly affect children; based on the experience of local governments or sources that work with local governments; take place outside of the school day; and have the potential to promote healthy eating and adequate physical activity.
Visit the IOM website to download the full report.