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
Amy Pessia, Merrimack Valley Food Bank


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 Tri-Chairs Marilyn Graham, Heather Hilbert, or Amy Pessia to learn about how you can get involved. The Healthy Eating & Living Task Force will meet 8:30 – 10 a.m:

  • Friday, November 17, 2017

Location: Saint’s Campus, Lowell General Hospital, One 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

The Healthy Eating and Active Living task force develops and improves partnerships that are committed to leading Greater Lowell area residents to better health. Crosscultural and intergenerational collaborations build on strengths of the community to improve active living and nutrition for healthy minds and healthy bodies for all.

Our major priorities continue to focus on:

• Supported the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) on the
Massachusetts Food Trust, closing the SNAP Gap, and Mass in Motion.
-The Massachusetts Food Trust supports new and expanded healthy
food retailers and local food enterprises in low- and moderate-income
communities throughout Massachusetts.
-Closing the SNAP Gap seeks to create a common application process
for MassHealth; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP);
Program for Emergency Aid to Elders, Disabled and Children; and the
Program for Transitional Assistance to Families with Dependent Children.
-Mass in Motion is a statewide movement that promotes opportunities
for healthy eating and active living in the places people live, learn, work,
and play. Language in the 2018 budget protects Mass in Motion funding
at level funding of 2017.
• Participated in Tewksbury’s 7th Annual Bike Safety Rodeo in June 2017.
• Hosted a “Massachusetts Sugar Tax” presentation by Allyson Perron
Drag of the American Heart Association in July 2017.
• Worked with the Greater Lowell Asthma Coalition (GLAC) to merge
their goals with the asthma goals and objectives of the Community Health
Improvement Plan (CHIP).
• Organized a community meeting exploring the Blue Zones Project for
Greater Lowell, presented by Tony Buettner, and sponsored by Circle Health, in
collaboration with a steering committee led by Dr. Damian Folch. More than 100
people attended and expressed interest in a Greater Lowell-based Blue Zones
Project, which is a community-wide well-being initiative designed to make healthier choices easier. A steering committee was created to continue the discussion.

Corner Store Initiative Working Group
Co-Chairs:
Mill City Grows Representative
Sidney Liang

Among our accomplishments over the past year, we:
• Joined the City of Lowell, Lowell Community Health Center, Mill City Grows,
and others on the Mass in Motion: Corner Store Initiative, with a goal
to work with local convenience stores to provide healthier food and drink
choices. Communities that have participated in Mass in Motion since its 2009
inception have shown a statistically significant drop in the percentage of
overweight and obese school children compared to the state as a whole.
• Worked closely with the Massachusetts Public Health Association and the
Massachusetts Food Trust to push for support of a Healthy Incentives
Program bill to provide SNAP participants financial incentive (30 cents
per dollar) for purchasing fruits and vegetables.
• Worked on a Food Day Celebration and Community Resource Fair to
be held on October 24 at the Lowell Senior Center

 

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:

  • 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.