Healthy Eating & Living

Obesity is widely considered the single greatest health threat to our country’s future. Addressing this crisis is a priority of the Greater Lowell Health Alliance and its Healthy Eating & Living Task Force.


We invite you to join us in the fight.

Who We Are

good foodThe mission of the Healthy Eating & Living Task Force is to develop and improve partnerships that are committed to leading Lowell area residents to a healthier community. Cross-cultural and intergenerational collaborations build on strengths of the community to improve active living and nutrition for healthy minds and healthy bodies for all.

Hailed by the Lowell Sun newspaper as “a new soldier in the war on obesity”, the Healthy Eating & Living Task meets regularly to develop and implement a long-term campaign to fight obesity.

Obesity will not be solved overnight. The Alliance is committed to measurable, long-term improvement in the quality and health of the community through awareness and successful grass-roots programs.

Task Force Chairs
Marilyn Graham, Community Coordinator, Lowell WIC
Heather Hilbert, Lowell General Hospital


Join Us

Children-PlayingWe urge you to join us in the fight to address this crisis and help create healthier minds and bodies in our region. Attend one of our task force meetings or contact Co-chairs Marilyn Graham or Heather Hilbert to learn about how you can get involved. The Healthy Eating & Living Task Force will meet 8:30 – 10 a.m:

  • Friday, January 27, 2017 *Date Change*
    Due to Healthy Corner Store Initiative
  • Friday, March 17, 2017
  • Friday, May 19, 2017
  • Friday, July 21, 2017
  • Friday, September 15, 2017
  • Friday, November 17, 2017

2nd Floor Board Room,  Saint’s Campus of Lowell General Hospital, 1 Hospital Drive, Lowell


Addressing the Need

The statistics around obesity, malnutrition and sedentary lifestyles are staggering. At home, at school, and in the workplace, obesity plays a central role in creating our major causes of death and disability. Left unchecked, obesity’s effects on health, health care costs, and our productivity as a nation could become catastrophic.

Nationally

  • Up to two-thirds of adults and one-third of children are overweight or obese.
  • More than 75 million Americans have high blood pressure.
  • Five million people are diabetic, and the number has doubled in the past 20 years.
  • Heart disease remains the No. 1 cause of death for men and women.
  • Despite excessive caloric consumption, over three-quarters of the population has a deficient intake of one or more essential nutrients.

Locally

The 2016 Greater Lowell Health Needs Assessment, a collaborative effort of the GLHA, Lowell General Hospital, and University of Massachusetts Lowell, has identified obesity and related conditions as among the most serious unmet needs in Greater Lowell.

Public health data supports concerns that the Greater Lowell area, and the City of Lowell in particular, have higher rates of diabetes, poor nutrition (inadequate fruit and vegetable intake), cardiovascular disease, and sedentary lifestyles.

For additional resources, visit our Resources page.


Our Impact

Since its inception, the Healthy Eating & Living Task Force has successfully reached out to community members and local organizations to increase awareness and initiate healthy lifestyle changes. Past programs and initiatives include a walking program event in partnership with UMass Lowell; International “Walk to School Day”; Safe Routes to School; “Lowell Gets Moving” resource guide; and a walking program with Middlesex Community College.

 

Current Initiatives

Our major priorities continue to focus on:

A policy on Complete Streets, which has been approved by the Lowell
City Council. The goal of Complete Streets is to improve the health of
all residents within the City of Lowell who are disproportionately low
income, by advocating, educating, and transforming Lowell’s built
environment to be more accessible to pedestrians and cyclists.

The “Mass in Motion: Corner Store Initiative.” Our goal is to work with
local convenience stores to help provide healthier food and drink choices
for the community. Over the past year we have engaged with several
stores in Lowell and are planning to expand to surrounding towns in
2016. Communities that have been participating in Mass in Motion
since its inception in 2009 have shown a statistically significant drop
in the percentage of overweight and obese school children compared
to the state as a whole.

The No Kid Hungry campaign, an initiative that connects children in
need with nutritious food and teaches their families how to cook healthy,
affordable meals. The campaign also engages the public to make ending
child hunger a national priority. Through its Cooking Matters program, the
No Kid Hungry campaign educates and empowers low-income families to
stretch their food budgets so their children receive healthy meals at home.

Safe Routes to Schools (SRS) whose primary aim is to improve the safety
and health of our schoolchildren. They educate students on pedestrian
and bike safety and give away reflectors to students after their presentations
which are normally done during school assembly. Parents and volunteers
are trained on crosswalk, sidewalk and parking lot safety.

Advocacy. Efforts of task force members and other partners resulted
in the Senate authorizing the Massachusetts Office of Business
Development to expend funds on the Massachusetts Food Trust Program
and maintaining funding for the Mass in Motion Program and increasing
overall funding for health promotion and disease prevention.

Past Initiatives

Since its inception, the Healthy Eating & Living Task Force has successfully reached out to the community to increase awareness and initiate healthy lifestyle changes. Past programs and initiatives include:

  • Hosted a “You-Focused Wellness” networking luncheon at Lowell General Hospital in May. Local health and wellness professionals volunteered their services to offer various modalities to the public, including Qigong, Reiki,
    back massages, satin hand treatments, tapping therapy, and body mass index measurements.
  • Completed the Complete Streets policy, which was approved by the Lowell City Council. The goal of Complete Streets is to improve the health of all residents within the City of Lowell who are disproportionately low income, by advocating, educating, and transforming Lowell’s built environment to be more accessible to
    pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Expanded the “Mass in Motion: Corner Store Initiative.” Our goal is to work with local convenience stores to help provide healthier food and drink choices for the community. Over the past year we have engaged with several stores in Lowell. Communities that have been participating in Mass in Motion since its inception in 2009 have shown a statistically significant drop in the percentage of overweight and obese school children compared to the state as a whole.
  • Worked with the Wellness Committee to develop a new allergy policy in Lowell Public Schools.
  • Participated in planning a successful Food Day Kick-off Event in October. Certificates of recognition were given out to local food champions and a proclamation was declared at the Lowell City Council Meeting as well as an official “Apple Crunch” – where everyone look a bite of an apple at the same time to signify the official start of Food Day 2015.
  • Facilitated the No Kid Hungry campaign, an initiative that connects children in need with nutritious food and teaches their families how to cook healthy, affordable meals. The campaign also engages the public to make ending child
    hunger a national priority. Through its Cooking Matters program, the No Kid Hungry campaign  educates and empowers low-income families to stretch their food budgets so their children receive healthy meals at home.
  • Implemented Safe Routes to Schools with an aim to improve the safety and health of our schoolchildren. They educate students on pedestrian and bike safety and give away reflectors to students after their presentations ,which are normally done during school assembly. Parents and volunteers are trained on crosswalk, sidewalk and parking lot safety.
  • Participated in Tewksbury’s 6th Annual Bike Safety Rodeo in August.
  • Provided testimony before the Joint Commission on Economic Development and
    Emerging Technologies, leading to $6 million in capital funding recently authorized for the Massachusetts Food Trust.