Fresno State obesity program receives $400k Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant

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Fresno State obesity program receives $400k Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant

The Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program (CCROPP), has been awarded a $400,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to improve opportunities for physical activity and access to healthy, affordable foods for children and families.

Based on demonstrated success in increasing active living and healthy eating, the San Joaquin Valley is one of nine leading sites selected for the Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities initiative. This $44 million national program is RWJF’s newest and largest investment to date in community-based solutions to childhood obesity. By late 2009 it will include approximately 70 communities across the country.

“We are pleased to receive this grant award,” said Genoveva Islas-Hooker, regional program coordinator for CCROPP. “This initiative will provide leadership development for residents who are working towards creating healthier communities for children and families by improving access to healthy foods and physical activity resources,” Islas-Hooker added. “The grant helps us to build on the work that we’ve done over the past three years with the support of The California Endowment and allows us to advance our obesity prevention efforts.”

“Achieving the scale and scope of changes necessary to create healthier communities would not be possible without the involvement of community members,” said Susan Elizabeth, senior consultant with Tulare-based Capacity Builders, Inc. “Unless we are able to enlist and harness the power of community members who live in this region, the changes aren’t going to happen soon enough, if at all,” Elizabeth explained. “We can’t do this alone.”

The San Joaquin Valley is home to more than 3.8 million people, with over 34 percent of the population under age 20. The region experiences some of the worst health outcomes in the state with alarming childhood and adult rates of obesity, diabetes and other chronic conditions. In the San Joaquin Valley, one out of three children are overweight or obese.

“In many of our communities, residents can’t easily buy healthy foods,” explained Islas-Hooker. “In addition, many neighborhoods are designed in ways that make it difficult and unsafe for children and adults to be physically active outdoors,” she added.

Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities is a cornerstone of RWJF’s five-year, $500 million commitment to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic in the United States by 2015.

“The program will provide replicable, real-time solutions for addressing the epidemic,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “We expect that this vital work by the Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program will help the San Joaquin Valley become the kind of region where all children can have healthier lives.”

The eight other cities or regions named as leading sites and receiving four-year grants are Baldwin Park and Oakland in California; Chicago; Columbia, Mo., Louisville, Ky.; Seattle; Somerville, Mass.; and Washington, DC. All were selected because of strong leadership and a readiness to make lasting change in their communities. Soon they will be serving as models and mentors for approximately 60 additional partnerships to be funded in December 2009.

RWJF today released a call for proposals for that second round of Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities funding. Partnerships from across the United States and its territories are eligible to apply. Preference will be given to applicants from communities in 15 states where rates of childhood obesity are particularly high-Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia. About five dozen grants of up to $360,000 will be awarded to qualified community partnerships. The deadline for brief proposals is Feb. 3.

Visit www.healthykidshealthycommunities.org to download the call for proposals and obtain additional information.

About the Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program

The Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program is committed to obesity prevention through place-based policy change that supports healthy eating and active living throughout the San Joaquin Valley. This unique comprehensive approach is being carried out by partnerships between public health departments, community-based organizations and community councils in Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Tulare counties. The program was developed by the Central California Public Health Partnership and is administered through California State University, Fresno. CCROPP is also funded by The California Endowment. For more information, please visit: www.ccropp.org.

About Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities

Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), advances community-based solutions that will help reverse the childhood obesity epidemic. It focuses on changing policies and environments to support active living and healthy eating among children and families. The program places special emphasis on reaching children who are at highest risk for obesity on the basis of income, race/ethnicity and geographic location. It will support RWJF’s efforts to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic in the United States by 2015.

The Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities national program office is housed at Active Living by Design, part of the North Carolina Institute for Public Health at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health in Chapel Hill. Established in 2001 as a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Active Living By Design now serves funders and partnerships across the country that are fostering community-led change to build a culture of active living and healthy eating.

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change.

For more than 35 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org.