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Conference of Mayors Awards Childhood Obesity Prevention Awards to Six Cities

By Crystal Swann
January 30, 2012


Nearly $450,000 in grants were awarded to some of the nation's most innovative city programs to combat childhood obesity, as the winners of the First Annual Childhood Prevention Awards Program were announced at the opening luncheon of the Conference's 80th Winter Meeting. The grants are part of a new partnership between the Conference of Mayors and the American Beverage Association (ABA), with the goal of supporting and/or enhancing mayors' ongoing childhood obesity prevention programs in their cities. The program also includes a national public awareness campaign, and will connect mayors with innovative, cost-effective program strategies to successfully reduce childhood obesity in their cities.

ABA President and CEO Susan K. Neely was on hand to make the award presentations to the winning cities. "We're proud to be working with The U.S. Conference of Mayors on this initiative because of the positive impact it will have on families nationwide," Neely said in a statement released following the presentation. "We're particularly excited to be growing community programs that are centered on reducing and preventing obesity throughout the country."

An independent panel of judges evaluated the programs and selected the winners based on a number of criteria. A total of six awards were presented, spread over three population based categories. In each category two awards were made: a $25,000 award for "Outstanding Achievement" to the runner-up, and an award of $100,000 or more to the winning city.

Small City (Population less than 75,000)

Winner ($100,000 award):

Lima (OH) Mayor David J. Berger: Lima will create "healthy living hubs" in three selected neighborhoods that are high poverty food deserts. ("Food deserts" are generally defined as areas with high poverty rates and low access to healthy foods.) Children and families living in and around these hubs will be provided with fitness classes, access to fresh produce via food-mobile, nutrition classes, and more.

Outstanding Achievement ($25,000 award):

Patterson (LA) Mayor Rodney Grogan: The city plans to establish a farmer's market accessible to low-income residents; improve play spaces and recreational facilities; and develop PSA campaigns that support healthy food choices and breastfeeding by new mothers, among other activities.

Medium City (Population 75,000 to 250,000)

Winner ($120,000 award):

Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski: "Fruits and Veggies on the Move" is an inspired variation of the ice cream truck theme we all remember from childhood a branded truck, loaded with fruits and vegetables, will travel to playgrounds and recreation sites throughout the city and offer free fruits and veggies to kids. The program was successfully piloted this past summer with the City proposing an expansion to include more sites, a year-round distribution schedule, the purchase of a dedicated truck with refrigeration capacity, and funds to buy the actual food (previously they relied only on donations). The target demographic is specifically the low-income Hispanic community.

Outstanding Achievement ($25,000 award):

Las Cruces Mayor Ken D. Miyagishima: Through the "5-2-1-0 Fitness Challenge," the mayor travels to every third grade class in the city (3rd grade was selected because the children are old enough to comprehend the challenge and young enough to make lifestyle changes relatively easily). The mayor challenges the students to do four things every day for the next 21 days (according to the applicant, it takes 21 days to change/break a habit): eat five servings of fruits/vegetables, devote no more than two hours to screen time (TV, computer, video games); exercise for one hour every day. Miyagishima will eventually deliver the presentation to more than 2,000 third graders each school year.

Large City (Population 250,000 or greater)

Winner ($150,000 award):

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer: The award will provide support for Louisville Youth Advocates (LYA). LYA is a group of fifty young people aged 12-18 who have canvassed the community to identify their needs, and will turn that information into talking points that they will use to advocate for change through policy development with local and state leaders. The youth advocates will also take on an entrepreneurial role in providing access to healthy foods by producing and selling fresh produce to corner stores and operating their own community market.

Outstanding Achievement ($25,000 award):

Houston Mayor Annise D. Parker: Through an expansion of the nationally recognized "Recipe for Success" program, the city plans to launch a "rolling green market" a van that will travel to Houston communities identified as food deserts to provide fresh produce.

For more information on the Childhood Obesity Prevention Awards Program, and the Conference of Mayors other programs and initiatives aimed at preventing childhood obesity, contact Crystal Swann at (202) 861-6707 or by e-mail at cswann@usmayors.org.