Collaboration begins implementation program for Plan4Health grant

Kenton County’s Direction 2030 comprehensive plan is the first to address the topic of health in a countywide planning document. Now, just months after the plan’s adoption, PDS staff is beginning to implement those health components. Like most PDS staff efforts, this is not being done alone.

Funded by a recent $135,000 grant from the American Planning Association (APA), the collaborative effort is working to provide access to nutritious food for those across the county who are unable to do so. The grant is being administered by the Kenton County Plan4Health Coalition (KCP4H) whose members include the Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington, Inc.; the Northern Kentucky Health Department; the OKI Regional Council of Governments; and, Planning & Development Services of Kenton County.

KCP4H efforts will include a countywide assessment of underserved neighborhoods in addition to a series of actions addressing affordability of and access to healthy food. Using dollars that were appropriated originally by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Coalition will map all the county’s full-line grocery stores, locate neighborhoods with limited access to healthy foods, and work toward increasing the supply of fresh produce for residents in need.

“There’s no question that this initiative moves in directions not taken in the past by PDS,” said PDS Executive Director Dennis Gordon, FAICP. “An important point to remember, however, is that health issues were included in Direction 2030 because of input from Kenton County citizens. As we work to implement provisions of that plan, we’re also working to build a community as envisioned by those citizens.”

The foundation for more long-term efforts will also result from this grant project. KCP4H will work over a 12-month period (ending March 2016) to lay the groundwork for a countywide food policy council to ensure that healthy and accessible food efforts continue into the future.

APA’s Plan4Health grants are being made available to combat two determinants of chronic disease – lack of physical activity and lack of access to nutritious foods.  The program is being implemented in partnership with the American Public Health Association and represents a major new collaboration between planners and public health professionals. This is the first time that APA, via funding from the CDC, has offered grants to promote healthy living.