CHICAGO, Sept. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Partnering in an innovative health initiative, the City Produce Project and the participating churches of the Actions Connected to Spirituality Forming Alliances in Transforming Health (A.C.T.S. of F.A.I.T.H.) are calling for more public and private partnerships to create programming that directly addresses obesity and its associated co-morbidities in underserved communities.
The announcement comes in September, which is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Childhood obesity disproportionately affects children in under-resourced communities, creating lifelong health problems, due to lack of access to fresh vegetables and nutrition education.
"Obesity is one of several health issues that require significantly more resources and focus," stated Dr. Dawnavan Davis, principal investigator at the University of Chicago Medical Center and founder of the health-oriented church coalition A.C.T.S. of F.A.I.T.H. "To achieve even modest progress requires tremendous contributions from community leaders, public agencies and private industry. And, education must be central to all programming so that a new generation is raised possessing increased awareness about health choices."
A.C.T.S. of F.A.I.T.H. is currently focused on addressing obesity as a top priority and has brought in City Produce Project to provide its service area with nutrition education programming and access to locally grown fresh vegetables. City Produce Project is funded by Monsanto and Illinois Corn Marketing Board, and targets more than 20 communities through Northeastern Illinois.
"Fresh vegetables are key to healthy diets and combating diseases like obesity and diabetes," stated Consuelo Madere, Monsanto vegetable seed lead. "City Produce Project brings together the best resources in production agriculture to affect positive change at a local level and in a sustainable manner. It starts with collaboration and education, and involves farming in a constructive manner early on."
Education can make the difference in encouraging parents and children to adopt healthy eating habits that improve their health and decrease the risk of diabetes and heart disease later in life. A.C.T.S. of F.A.I.T.H. and City Produce Project are encouraging health institutions that serve underserved communities to include community leaders, corporations and academia in the development of health directed programming. "There is more than enough room for additional participation," added Dr. Davis. "Making positive advances in childhood obesity now provides significant payback in future years."
In 2010, City Produce Project is offering nutrition instruction for underserved communities throughout the Chicago area, conducted in a classroom setting facilitated by professional educators from the University of Illinois Extension program. Coupled with fresh vegetables grown on nearby farms, participants are given a comprehensive set of tools to use in the fight against obesity related co-morbidities. The City Produce Project has to date distributed thousands of pounds of fresh vegetables to communities where fresh produce is nearly non-existent.
"We are pleased that Illinois' family farmers have stepped up to address this challenge," stated Rodney Weinzierl, executive director of Illinois Corn Marketing Board representing family farmers across IL producing corn. "We've seen progress this year in a very difficult growing season. This underscores the challenge to reliable food production and the need to increase efforts around food related health issues."
Childhood Obesity Awareness Month puts a spotlight on this alarming issue and is a call to action for a greater network of partnerships to provide resources to guide youth to a healthier future.
About City Produce Project:
The City Produce Project is designed to impact growing diet-related health issues such as obesity and diabetes in underserved communities. The project was conceived through a collaboration of research hospitals, health clinics, academics and agriculture industry representatives. With the help of Monsanto and the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, this program will donate tens of thousands of pounds of fresh produce to participants, as well as establish community gardens where participants can grow their own vegetables.
About A.C.T.S. of F.A.I.T.H.:
A.C.T.S. of F.A.I.T.H. is a partnership between 11 churches on Chicago's South Side and the University of Chicago to work together as the Faith and Health Collaborative to address health disparities and inequalities in South Side communities through faith-led initiatives. The mission of A.C.T.S. of F.A.I.T.H. is to improve health outcomes in African Americans by connecting and mobilizing faith institutions to empower individuals and communities to take an active role in creating and fostering health and wellness. For more information please visit www.davisdigest.org
SOURCE City Produce Project