Boston was one of 44 communities that were 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.
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 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. The 20-member leadership team includes Boston Public Schools Superintendent Carol Johnson; Dr. Gary Gottlieb, CEO of Partners Healthcare; Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern University; Carol Fulp, vice president of community relations at John Hancock Financial Services; Walter Willett, chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health; Dr. Paula Johnson, chair of the Boston Public Health Commission's Board of Health; Thomas J. Tinlin, commissioner of the Boston Transportation Department, and John Palmieri, who heads the Boston Redevelopment Authority.
Drinking soda can slow you down by causing weight gain and health problems, like diabetes and heart disease. Join Boston's soda-free summer challenge and re-energize your life! Go to http://www.facebook.com/HealthyBoston or call 617-534-5690 to take the pledge and enter a weekly raffle.