Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States Awards Over $285,000 in Grants to Improve Food Security, Obesity Rates in Prince George's County Community

Nov 17, 2011, 14:37 ET from Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States

Grant recipients, ECO City Farms and End Time Harvest Ministries

ROCKVILLE, Md., Nov. 17, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Total health organization, Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States, has awarded $198,000 and $89,200 to Engaged Community Offshoots, Inc. (ECO City Farms) and End Time Harvest Ministries, Inc. (ETHM), respectively, to support programs that will improve access to healthy foods and physical activity through policy advocacy and community-based initiatives in Prince George's County, Md.

ECO City Farms will utilize the $198,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente to enhance food security—an issue pertaining to the affordability and accessibility of nutritious foods in low-income communities—aiming to improve the health of residents within neighboring communities of ECO City Farms' anchor farm located in Edmonston, Md. 

The capacity building grant will support ECO City Farms' efforts to make farm fresh foods more accessible to County residents by building an education and learning center onsite at the Edmonston farm; establishing a revenue-building produce market stand; expanding its community compost collection program; offering an urban farmer training program to members of the community; and collaborating with the Port Towns Youth Council—a product of End Time Harvest Ministries—to operate a youth education and jobs program. 

The $89,200 awarded to ETHM will support its recently launched Port Towns Youth Council Wellness Ambassador Public Policy Program.  The Port Towns consist of four neighboring communities: Bladensburg, Colmar Manor, Cottage City and Edmonston.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Rates of obesity and related chronic illness in Prince George's County are among the highest in Maryland.  According to a 2009 Center for Disease Control's (CDC's) Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), 33% of children and youth (ages 2-19) in Prince George's County are obese, and 67% of the county's adults were identified as either obese or overweight.[*]

Research shows that individual behaviors account for 40 percent of health outcomes, followed by social and environmental factors where people live, work and play.  Behaviors that lead to obesity and overweight are largely influenced by the resources available in people's neighborhoods (food outlets, recreation spaces, schools and after-school programs, workplaces, etc).

The Youth Wellness Ambassador Public Policy Program seeks to prepare and train a core group of high, middle, and elementary school children from the Port Towns to be leaders in policy advocacy on the issue of health and wellness.  Part of the intensive training program includes providing the youth with the resources to conduct community audits and food mapping, develop a healthy eating, active living marketing campaign, and ultimately develop skills to engage and influence policymakers, community leaders, and their peers to address conditions that prevent the Port Towns from achieving optimal health.

ECO City Farms and ETHM are members of the Port Towns Community Health Partnership – a collaboration of residents, nonprofits, and private and public institutions, funded by Kaiser Permanente, Consumer Health Foundation, Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, and United Way of the National Capital Area – working to change policies, practices, and environmental conditions that pose the greatest health risks to Port Towns residents.  Details about the Partnership can be found at www.portowns-chp.org.

Investments in organizations such as ECO City Farms and ETHM are representative of Kaiser Permanente's larger goal to engage communities in transformative work to improve conditions in neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces and reduce rates of obesity and preventable chronic illness. 

An organization committed to the health of the communities it serves, Kaiser Permanente makes investments in distinct areas of focus including: promoting healthy communities; expanding access to quality health care; helping community colleges develop a culturally competent health workforce; supporting research and an educational theatre program; and supporting safety net community clinics, health providers, and other direct service providers.

About Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States

Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States region, headquartered in Rockville, Maryland, provides and coordinates complete health care services for almost 500,000 members through 30 medical centers in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.  Founded in 1980, Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States is a total health organization comprised of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States, Inc., and the Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group, P.C., an independent medical group that features approximately 900 physicians who provide or arrange care for patients throughout the area.  Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States is considered one of Maryland's "Top HMOs," according to the Maryland Health Care Commission.  The health plan was ranked in the nation's 50 top commercial health plans and 20 top Medicare health plans – and the #1 Medicare plan for Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. – by "NCQA Health Insurance Plan Rankings 2011-2012 Private."  For more information about Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States, visit www.kp.org or follow us on Twitter, www.twitter.com/KPMidAtlantic.

About Engaged Community Offshoots, Inc. (ECO City Farms)

ECO City Farms is an educational, not-for-profit enterprise located inside the Capital Beltway in Prince George's County, MD, designed to serve as a prototype for sustainable local farming.  ECO City Farms seeks to enhance food security, safety and access, to improve nutrition and health, to preserve cultural and ecological diversity, and to accelerate the transition to an economy based on preservation, recycling and restoration. We amplify community voice and engagement to reinvigorate the Chesapeake foodshed with sustainable ways of making food and money.

To learn more, visit http://www.ecoffshoots.org/

About End Time Harvest Ministries, Inc. (ETHM)

ETHM promotes youth involvement in the Port Towns (Bladensburg, Colmar Manor, Cottage City and Edmonston) and other Prince George's County (Maryland) communities by equipping young leaders with educational, social, and economic life skills to positively influence and actively advance the health, wellness and wealth of our communities.

[*] BRFSS 2009 Maryland (Parent Report on Child); www.marylandbrfss.org; variable name="Child Demographics:  Percentile for BMI for Age 2 to <18"

SOURCE Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States