Healthy Eating/Active Living (HEAL) is a collaborative effort of the foundation, local and state agencies, and community partnerships concerned about health disparities, the rising obesity epidemic and the lack of healthy food options and safe, fun physical activities in the Central Neighborhood.
HEAL aims to foster implementation of healthy eating and active living in schools, work sites, food outlets, and more to have an impact on health, economic opportunities and the quality of life of Central Neighborhood residents.
The foundation is partnering with OSU Extension, the Children’s Hunger Alliance, the Cleveland Metroparks, Bike Cleveland and others to bring healthy eating and active living opportunities to Central.
Marion-Sterling elementary school in Cleveland’s Central Neighborhood, was recently awarded a $4,000 Farm to School mini-grant from the Ohio Department of Education. The grant, coordinated by OSU Extension and the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Food Policy Coalition, will be used to add a healthy salad bar to support new school nutrition standards and farm to school curriculum. A school garden will be established to introduce students to agriculture, the environment and the sources of their food. HEAL partners also came forward to support the grant by providing matching services including cooking and nutrition education classes.
Locally, the South Euclid-Lyndhurst School District has adopted the model, they call Farm to Fork. OSU Extension is partnering with the Cuyahoga County Board of Health to plan a community field trip to the South Euclid-Lyndhurst schools for Central residents to see firsthand how farm to school components, like a salad bar, have been successfully integrated into the schools.
The foundation works closely with Burten, Bell, Carr Development, Inc., including supporting its new initiative to bring healthy food and nutrition education to the community.
Burten, Bell, Carr recently received a $745,000 Healthy Food Financing federal grant to increase access to healthy, affordable food in communities that currently lack these options.
The result is the Bridgeport Café, the newly opened restaurant with a menu that incorporates locally grown food in the Central and Kinsman neighborhood. The café offers a healthy variety of fresh salads, wraps, soups, baked goods, and hand-crafted sandwiches.
There’s also the new CornUcopia Place, next door to Bridgeport Cafe is a community facility providing nutrition education, cooking demonstrations, an open multi-purpose space available for private events and functions, and a harvest preparation station for use by local market gardeners.
Finally, there’s the Bridgeport Mobile Market that will eliminate food deserts throughout the east side of Cleveland by making fresh produce available to residents where they live.
The Foundation is actively engaged in supporting urban agriculture and market gardens to improve the food environment for the Central Neighborhood, including the Building Healthy Communities program, which includes the Garden Boyz and their urban gardens in Central that sell fresh produce to local farmers’ markets in the community.
The Foundation is one of several funders participating in the program that provides a financial incentive for Ohio Direction Card recipients to spend a portion of their benefits at local farmers markets for fresh vegetables and fruits. Through the Produce Perks Program, families get a dollar for dollar match – up to an additional $10 – for fruits and vegetables each time a person on the Food Assistance Program used their Ohio Direction Card at one of the 16 participating markets.
Ensuring children have access and information on healthy eating and the importance of physical fun is essential. The Foundation supports three programs the Children’s Hunger Alliance offers in Central, that touch hundreds of children and their families and provides healthy snacks, as well as information on nutrition, how to make a healthy snack and fun ways to get physical and get moving.
The Foundation is partnering this year with Bike Cleveland, the Cleveland Rowing Foundation, the Cleveland Metroparks, and the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park to bring new active living opportunities to the Central Neighborhood youth.
The Metroparks is bringing its “Youth Outdoors Program” to Central to provide local youth with opportunities to participate in outdoor recreation activities such as hiking, biking, backpacking, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, snowshoeing and cross country skiing at no cost.
These no-cost activities provide for year round physical activity that is not readily accessible or available in the Central Neighborhood. The program works to develop an interest in healthy lifestyles, responsibility, a connection to nature and new relationships with youth and adults over the long-term.