Community organizations and the City of Springfield are recipients of a $2 million Community Transformation Grant from the Centers for Disease Control to address chronic disease through four strategies that will enhance access to healthy eating and physical activity over the next two years. Over the past five years, the Live Well Springfield: Eat Smart. Stay Fit. Initiative has piloted many strategies to increase healthier food options and do capacity building around pedestrian and bike policy.
"I have always been a strong supporter of health and wellness programs that benefit everyone in Springfield. Our city is blessed with many natural resources, from its parks system to the Connecticut River, that provide perfect settings for outdoor activity, exercise and athletics. Western Massachusetts also has some of the finest locally grown food and vegetables that can give families healthier choices at meal time. This important grant will allow community organizations to capitalize on these assets and develop a regional wellness strategy that will benefit everyone in the Pioneer Valley. It's an exciting and important initiative," said Congressman Richard E. Neal.
Mayor Domenic J. Sarno stated “This grant allows the City of Springfield to continue to build upon and expand and promote our health and quality of life programs.”
Jessica Collins, Director of Live Well Springfield at Partners for a Healthier Community says, “This new funding is incredibly exciting because it will provide resources for non-public health stakeholders, such as planners and economic development partners to join the effort of transforming our community to be designed and built so the healthy option, such as walking and biking to school or work, and eating fresh produce, is the easier option for everyone in our city, everyday.”
Lead organizations include the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC), Partners for a Healthier Community (PHC), Pioneer Valley Riverfront Club (PVRC), the City of Springfield, Mason Square Health Taskforce, Caring Health Center, Baystate Brightwood Health Center and Develop Springfield. Evaluation of the project will be done by UMASS School of Public Health and Nutrition Department Faculty, Drs. Carbone and Puleo.
Strategies include the expansion of the Live Well Springfield: Go Fresh Mobile Farmer’s Market through Enterprise Farm of Whately, MA and New Land Farms of West Springfield; rowing on the Connecticut River and biking programs through the PVRC; continuation of work to bring a full line grocery store to Mason Square on State Street; and assessment and infrastructure work to enhance pedestrian and bicycle amenities throughout our city. A new contract position, Healthy Design and Safety Coordinator, at the City Office of Planning and Economic Development and Department of Public Works, will work directly with the Bike/Pedestrian Coordinator at PVPC to do sidewalk inventories, bike-lane assessments and connectivity of walking and biking trails to the 3.7 mile Riverwalk. Lastly, a professional communications and marketing firm will be hired to kick- off and lead a two –year community-wide healthy eating and physical activity campaign.
Tim Brennan, Executive Director of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission says that “This award is very exciting not only for Springfield, but the region, because many of the strategies we are testing and implementing here will enable us to replicate and expand throughout the Pioneer Valley when appropriate. Already, through this group of collaborators, work is underway with PVTA to increase ridership in Springfield and connect the Riverwalk regionally.”
This funding will compliment the efforts already underway from the MA in Motion project through the Department of Health and Human Services.