Funding Extends Initiatives to Improve the Health of County Residents
The Allegheny County Health Department announced today that it is has received an additional $1,500,000 two-year grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation to continue its Live Well Allegheny efforts to enhance food access by eliminating food deserts and by expanding opportunities for physical activity through built environment changes. While Live Well Allegheny targets the entire County, this grant provides resources for a special emphasis on disadvantaged communities and builds on the success of a prior one-year grant.
“We are particularly excited about this grant because it represents three years of funding from the Richard King Mellon Foundation for our collective efforts to improve health of residents in Allegheny County,” said Dr. Karen Hacker, Director of the Allegheny County Health Department. “The projects that are funded as part of Live Well Allegheny are beginning to have a measurable impact and we look forward to continued work.”
Several stakeholders involved in the work will also receive funding as part of this project, including Allegheny County Economic Development, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, Just Harvest, and the United Way of Allegheny County/fitUnited. RAND Health is helping with the evaluation.
Following are several of the accomplishments achieved with the first year of funding and plans for the next two years:
- Allegheny County Economic Development Department launched the Active Allegheny Grant Program to provide financial assistance to communities to develop plans and design transportation projects that will, when implemented, increase residents’ opportunities for physical activity. To date, two projects have been funded and seven more applications have been received for review. This grant opportunity will be extended by two additional years to promote active transportation and the implementation of the Active Allegheny Plan.
- Just Harvest expanded the Fresh Access Program to five additional farmer’s markets in 2015 and 2016, enabling people to use their SNAP and EBT benefits at farmer’s markets to purchase fruits and vegetables. Food stamp sales have soared by 80% in 2015 over the previous year. All Fresh Access markets also participate in the Food Bucks fresh produce incentive program adding even more buying power for low-income residents to get fresh fruit and vegetables with their food stamps. People can visit the newest Fresh Access markets in Wilkinsburg, West Homestead, Moon Township, Homewood and Sharpsburg.
- Just Harvest launched the Fresh Corners Program to get corner stores in communities considered to be food deserts to sell healthier foods including fresh produce. So far, four stores have joined including Rocks Express, In-and-Out corner Market, a newly-opened market connected to 5 Generations Bakers in McKees Rocks and LA Grocery in the Larimer section of Pittsburgh. Moving forward, Just Harvest will continue to work with store owners, local government officials, community stakeholders and potential grocery start-ups to bring Fresh Corners to more areas of high need.
- The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank launched the Green Grocer Program, a mobile farmers market that travels to food desert communities to provide the fresh food options. The Green Grocer is currently making stops every week in six different communities including North Oakland, the Northside, Clairton, Mt. Oliver/Knoxville, Homewood and Wilmerding. To date, there have been 1,859 sales transactions.
- fitUnited expanded the Live Well Allegheny campaign through outreach to youth serving and corporate partners, raising $75,000 for increased physical activity and improved nutrition programs. Fifty-three fitUnited partners have joined the Live Well Allegheny While continuing to take the Live Well Allegheny message to day care centers across the county, fitUnited also has a large Day of Action planned on June 11 on the Northside, with an anticipated 200 volunteers.
- The Allegheny County Health Department initiated the Allegheny Health Survey which is currently underway. It will provide data that can be used to gauge the effectiveness of current programs and determine areas in need of improvement to best meet the needs of county residents. It is expected to be completed later this summer.
Live Well Allegheny was launched in January 2014 as a comprehensive, innovative strategy on wellness that embraces a broad concept of living well to include physical health, mental wellness, personal and community safety, prevention and preparedness, and much more.
The initiative has expanded greatly since its inception. Today, there are 24 Live Well Allegheny Communities with 589,835 residents, six Live Well Allegheny Schools with an enrollment of 46,546 children and 24 Live Well Allegheny Restaurants. The addition of Live Well Allegheny Workplaces is underway, providing another opportunity for county residents to engage in a healthy lifestyle behaviors. All of the Live Well Allegheny accomplishments are documented in the recently released report which is available on the web site at the following link: http://www.livewellallegheny.com/about-us/biannual-report-2014-15/.