Partnership with Beverage Industry Invests $3.1 Million Overall in Programs that Encourage Healthy Weight and Healthy Lifestyles among Children

WASHINGTON, D.C. —The United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) today announced the winners of the 2019 Childhood Obesity Prevention Awards at the organization’s 87th Winter Meeting in the nation’s capital. The awards went to cities whose mayors initiated exceptional programs to encourage healthy weight through balanced diet choices and regular physical activity.

“America’s beverage companies believe strongly that industry and government can work together on meaningful solutions to improve the health of the communities where we all work and live,” said Katherine Lugar, president of the American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America (ABFHA) Board of Directors and president and CEO of the American Beverage Association. “The mayors being recognized today are leading the way with innovative programs that teach our children about the benefits of good nutrition, balanced diets and staying active – guidance they will benefit from their entire lives. Our partnership with these exceptional city leaders will have meaningful and lasting results for the health of their communities for many years to come.”

“We’re exceptionally proud of our partnership with the American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America to invest in the health and well-being of children in America’s cities,” said Tom Cochran, USCM CEO and executive director. “Since 2012, we’ve been able to provide more than $3 million in grants to dozens of cities across the country, to support common-sense effective programs from making neighborhoods more walkable to teaching kids and their families how to cook and grow their own fruits and vegetables. With our continued support and partnership, I know the nation’s mayors will keep leading the way on this important effort.”

Six U.S. cities were recognized for their mayoral-based initiatives:

  • Los Angeles
  • Madison, Wis.
  • Richmond, Va.
  • Flint, Mich.
  • Findlay, Ohio
  • Monroe, La.

The grant program is the result of a partnership between USCM and ABHFA, which was created and funded by America’s non-alcoholic beverage industry and reflects the industry’s long-standing tradition of giving back to communities. Since the start of this partnership in 2012, USCM and ABHFA have awarded $3.1 million in grants to more than 40 cities across the nation.

The awards are divided into categories of small, medium and large cities. Awards for first place and second place are given in each category. An independent panel of judges evaluated each application based on innovation, creativity, replicability and potential impact.

A brief description of each winning program appears below.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are more than 1,200 such cities in the country today, and each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor. Find us at, on, or follow us on Twitter at

The American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America (ABHFA) seeks to make a significant contribution to the health of local communities, by providing grants to support charitable programs at community organizations that work to advance both the physical health of their local citizens and the environmental health of their communities. For more information on ABHFA, please visit the foundation’s website at

Large City

1st Place ($150,000): Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti

Universal Play (UP) aims to increase participation of youth in high-need neighborhoods with little to no access to sports and fitness programs by providing subsidized recreational programming to youth (up to 15 years of age) across Los Angeles to increase the physical well-being and healthy development of the city’s youth. By subsidizing program fees, Universal Play increases access to physical activity for children and youth. UP will be implemented at seven high-need recreation centers across the city. Programs at each center vary and include co-ed seasonal sports leagues (soccer, volleyball, flag football, basketball, futsal, or baseball), girls seasonal sports leagues (softball, volleyball, or basketball), co-ed fitness classes (martial arts, boxing, track and field, gymnastics, tumbling, cardio, or sports clinics), girls fitness classes (cheer, drill, gymnastics, tumbling, yoga, or sports clinics), dance classes (hip hop, folkloric, ballet, or zumba), or special events or classes (healthy living, nutrition, culminating events). The benefits of UP go beyond fun recreational programming. Studies show play has a critical role in a child’s healthy development. Through play, children become more resilient as they learn to cooperate with others, solve problems and be creative.

2nd Place ($25,000): Madison, Wis., Mayor Paul Soglin

Fit Youth Initiative (FYI) aims to provide participants with access to both formal sports and less formal, club-based, non- competitive recreation, offered either free or on a sliding fee scale (nobody will be denied access based on income). Activities will be located where young people are (schools and community centers) or transportation will be provided to those who need it. The SPARK best-practice physical education curriculum will be taught in 14 elementary schools across the city and will be free to all participants. The FYI program includes healthy meals and snacks at all FYI programming prepared by teen employees as part of the TEENworks youth employment training program. FYI and its partners will

engage 10,000 people across the city and at least 80 percent of participants will be low-income youth and youth of color. In addition, the successful eight-year-old Garden Fit Program, which combines gardening, cooking and active outdoor options into a hands-on youth program, will be replicated to other sites across the city.

Medium City

1st Place ($120,000): Richmond, Va., Mayor Lavar Stoney

Fit4Kids was founded specifically to combat childhood obesity and currently serves 10,000 children in the Richmond region. The proposed project will engage students at Title I Richmond Public Schools (RPS) elementary schools. Within the RPS system, 69 percent of students are African-American, 15 percent are Hispanic, and 93 percent are eligible for free lunch. The project will create a culture of positive, empowering nutrition and fitness choices among students to foster transformative impacts on long- term individual and community health. The program will support the mayor’s Fruit and Veggie Challenge at 20 Richmond schools. During the week, more than 35,000 fruit and vegetable samples will be distributed to more than 8,000 students. At least 300 community volunteers will support the initiative. Innovative marketing materials will champion and encourage fruit and vegetable consumption and will engage more than 650 Richmond students to participate in the Virginia529 Kids Run one-mile race. In addition, the program will provide quality equipment to promote physical activity during recess in all 22 Title I Richmond elementary schools and will expand the Fit4Kids successful Wellness Integration program to a third Richmond elementary school reaching 400 more students.

2nd Place ($25,000): Flint, Mich., Mayor Karen Weaver

Get Fit Flint was created to help Flint residents grow and access healthy food as part of the city’s Imagine Flint Master Plan and Edible Flint strategic plan. The Fit Life program will build on this foundation, most directly benefiting boys and young men through structured mentoring and youth leadership development programming. Ten young men ages 17-24 will be hired as Fit Life Coaches to provide physical fitness, nutrition and mentoring activities to up to 100 children by the end of the program. Children taking part in the program are ages 8-16 and they will spend 10-15 hours a week in the program with a goal of 36 weeks of programming. Overeating is often tied to children’s feelings and coping with stress. With social-emotional health and well-being in mind, the Fit Life Coaches will participate in trainings on resiliency and trauma-informed principles, participatory research, event planning and promotion, presentation design, public speaking and facilitation.

Small City

1st Place ($100,000): Findlay, Ohio, Mayor Lydia Mihalik

Keep Active, Keep Healthy strives to provide affordable, quality recreational programs that are also educational, fun and rewarding for the entire community. Keep Active, Keep Healthy programming, now in its second year, focuses on children ages 5-18 and offers a series of summertime programs for young people including disc golf, Ultimate Frisbee, pickleball, obstacle courses, kickball and Wiffle Ball. Participation ranges from 10 to 50 kids per activity. The programs are free to all regardless of income level. The goal is to get the kids to have fun while encouraging them to exercise and live an active

lifestyle by exposing them to sports and activities they might not otherwise have tried. The grant will enable the city to remove a major barrier to participation – transportation. The city plans to use a portion of the grant funds to provide transportation to increase access for those who most need it.

2nd Place ($25,000): Monroe, La., Mayor Jamie Mayo

Mayor’s Fit Monroe Program teaches children aged 6-14 about the benefits of eating healthy by having them plant gardens at their schools and serving the harvested fresh vegetables and fruits at school cafeterias. Awards will be given to the students and schools that harvest the greatest amount of vegetables and fruits. Awards will also go to the “Best Cooks” at each school. After-school physical fitness programs will encourage children to walk, run, skateboard or bike five miles every day under the supervision of schools, parents and recreation centers. Sports equipment will be provided to the schools as needed. In addition, monthly Saturday programs will teach children about healthy nutrition, gardening, cooking and competitive sports. Awards will be given to the schools and the students who achieve the greatest number of miles walked, run, biked or skateboarded. A certificate will be given to each student who participates in one or more of these activities.