NORTHAMPTON - Cooley Dickinson Hospital awarded $59,000 in grants to nine initiatives to help Hampshire and Franklin residents eat better and move more.
The grants were awarded in two categories: capacity-building awards and community projects.
The goal of the capacity building grants is to identify ways local communities can improve systems and begin working together to address some of the root causes of poor health. The goal of the community project grants is to implement pilot projects that potentially can be replicated.
The Strategic Planning Initiative for Families and Youth (SPIFFY) Coalition in Hampshire County, the Communities That Care Coalition in Franklin County, and a collaboration between Jackson St. Elementary School in Northampton and Fertile Ground, a gardening education organization located in Williamsburg, each received $15,000 in capacity-building grants.
Community Action Youth Programs and the Amherst Health Department were awarded $5,000 grants while the Easthampton Council on Aging, Grow Food Northampton, the Retired Senior Volunteer Program and the Hadley Public Schools each received $1,000,
"Creating more opportunities for residents to eat healthy and be active is part of our vision for a vibrant and healthy community," said Jenny Reynolds, Chair of the Cooley Dickinson Healthy Communities Committee and member of the hospital's Board of Trustees. "We are thrilled to partner with community groups that are working hard to improve the health of all residents."
Increased access to healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity ranked near the top of the 2010 Community Health Assessment commissioned by Cooley Dickinson Hospital. Results from the assessment also reflect recent public health research that indicates investing in community initiatives that seek to increase healthy eating and physical activity can impact chronic disease and obesity.
In the past, the hospital's Healthy Communities committee allocated general grant funding, but this year decided to hone its focus toward projects that are dedicated to healthy eating and active living.
The community health grants are part of a larger goal of improving the health of local residents. As part of Cooley Dickinson's $3 million purchase of a linear accelerator, used to treat cancer, the hospital is mandated by the state Department of Public Health's Determination of Need program to support community health projects. Cooley Dickinson used a grant application process to redistribute funds back to the communities it serves.
All organizations that were funded will complete their projects by Sept. 2012.