July 14, 2010 - Boston was one of 44 communities that US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced in March, 2010 were being awarded two-year stimulus grants for "Communities Putting Prevention to Work," a national initiative to address two leading causes of premature death and disability – obesity and tobacco use. Boston was the only city in Massachusetts to receive funding and one of only seven communities nationwide to get both grants - $6.4 million for obesity prevention and $6.1 million to reduce tobacco use, including connecting residents to tobacco-cessation services and creating smoke-free environments.
About $1 million of the $6.4 million for obesity prevention is being used to improve access to affordable produce in Roxbury, Mattapan, and Dorchester, which have higher rates of obesity – at 40 percent, 33 percent, and 31 percent, respectively – and chronic disease than the city as a whole. The plans include hiring and training up to 250 youths to work with The Food Project to build 400 backyard gardens in the three neighborhoods; transforming a vacant 10,000-square foot greenhouse in the heart of Roxbury into a community growing and education center; doubling the number of community plots in Dorchester, and expanding the Nightingale Garden in Dorchester by 65,000 square-feet so that stretches across 1.5 acres.
“The next two years will be an exciting time for Boston, as we join forces with our community partners to make real change happen in our city, both on reducing exposure to tobacco and fighting obesity,’’ said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission, the agency that received the federal funding. ``We are fortunate to have the strong, capable leadership of Mayor Menino and Secretary Sebelius supporting those efforts.’’
Besides the gardening initiatives, the $6.4 million obesity prevention grant will be used to:
* Decrease consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages through counter-advertising and policy change
* Increase active transit through bike share programs and land-use policies
* Enhance the integration of high-quality and frequent physical activity and education into the school day
The $6.1 million tobacco reduction grant will be used to:
* Change attitudes toward smoking to reduce demand
* Enact regulatory and other policy changes that limit tobacco access, influence price, and increase the number of smoke-free environments
* Increase structural capacity to connect Boston residents to tailored tobacco-cessation services
* Create 1,000 smoke-free residences in Boston
The city’s progress on achieving the goals of the grants are being monitored by a high-level leadership team, headed by Mayor Menino and consisting of representatives from the public and private sector, whose institutions will likely play a critical role in the implementation of policy changes.
Reference: Mayor Menino and HHS Secretary Sebelius Highlight New Obesity and Tobacco Prevention Projects, CityofBoston.com, 7/12/2010.
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