One year after PDS and its partners received a grant to highlight and improve access to healthy food, progress can be measured. Hope can be expressed as well that the initiative helped raise the bar.
“From the start, the Kenton County team hit the ground running with a clear strategy for assessing the environment and taking a comprehensive look at the food system,” said Anna Ricklin, AICP, Manager of the Planning and Community Health Center for the American Planning Association (APA). “Their work and its results serve as excellent examples of what can happen when staff from public health and planning agencies come together with a united goal to support community needs.”
The Kenton County PLAN4Health program was established by a $135,000 grant from APA via its partnership with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The program was a collaborative effort that included professional staff from the Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington, Inc., the American Planning Association-Kentucky Chapter, the Northern Kentucky Health Department, the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI), and PDS.
Collaborative efforts to promote healthy eating and behaviors as well as to improve food access throughout the Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati Region continue following the end of the PLAN4Health initiative that concluded in May 2016. Early in the program, PDS staff and the other grant partners recognized the need to continue collaboration with other organizations. Their intent was to partner on initiatives and implementation projects in the region long after the end of the PLAN4Health program.
Since the program concluded last year, the grant partners intensified their involvement with work on the Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council. This group examines food policy from many different perspectives. Its broad mission is to define a set of collective decisions made by governments, businesses, and organizations that affect how food gets from the farm to tristate tables. The Council promotes a healthy, equitable, and sustainable food system for all within Greater Cincinnati’s ten-county region.
The grant partners are also involved with LiveWell NKY, an organization that focuses on community based implantation programs geared towards healthy lifestyles. The core focus of the group begins with healthy behaviors, which are enabled by healthy policies and environments. Their ultimate goal is making the healthy choice the easy choice everywhere we live, work, learn, play, and worship. The stated objective of LiveWell NKY is “to ignite an uprising within the community to build a movement toward a culture of health.”
The Kenton County PLAN4Health project was a yearlong planning effort to increase access to nutritious food across the county. The program worked to achieve this goal through several efforts including building a better link between urban markets and rural food producers, focusing on corner stores in urban communities, a targeted awareness campaign, and even hosting a marketing campaign as well as healthy foods summit near the end of the program.
More information about the initiative may be found online