Healthy Eating, Active Living Community Health Initiative (HEAL) is a project of the Community Activity and Nutrition Coalition of Sonoma County (CAN-C) that is funded by Kaiser Permanente Northern California Region. The goal of HEAL is to create a sphere of influence, a "HEAL Zone," in Kawana Springs and Roseland neighborhoods that makes it easier for community members to eat healthier foods and be more physical activity throughout life, from infancy through adulthood, in order to prevent diseases such as diabetes and hypertension that often result from obesity.
The HEAL Zones are a continuation of a five-year initiative started in 2006 that empowered communities to promote healthy eating and active living through sustainable policy, systems, and environmental change across schools, worksites, healthcare facilities, and neighborhoods. In south Santa Rosa, these changes included adding salad bars to seven schools and improving school lunches in three school districts, offering breastfeeding and healthier living counseling and classes to patients at community clinics, empowering residents to create healthy changes in their communities through leadership development, and launching the Healthy Food Outlet Project and the Smart Meal Program.
The goals for the next three years of HEAL are:
- Decrease calorie consumption, especially sugar-sweetened beverages
- Increase consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables
- Increase physical activity in community settings, such as parks and safe routes for walking and biking
- Increase physical activity in institutional settings, such as schools and workplaces
The project will continue to focus on sustainable environmental, system and policy changes that help to reduce racial and ethnic disparities associated with poor nutrition and inactivity. Additionally, community members will continue to drive changes in their own physical and social environments and/or advocate for policies that promote healthy eating and active living. These goals will be accomplished through the implementation of a Community Action Plan (CAP), created by residents and representatives from schools, worksites, and healthcare serving south Santa Rosa.
Bringing Health Lessons Alive with Local Apples
In October 2012, students at two Santa Rosa HEAL Zone schools, Sheppard and Roseland Elementary Schools (Roseland School District), had an opportunity to try local apples through the Harvest of the Month (HOTM) program.
While the district had been participating in HOTM for several years, the schools had not yet had the opportunity to procure local produce for tasting in the classrooms. With technical assistance from County of Sonoma Department of Health Services HEAL staff and help from community volunteers, the school secured Golden Delicious apples from two farmers in Sebastopol, an area with a rich history of apple farming.
Nursing students from Sonoma State University’s Nursing Program, placed in teams to conduct nutrition lessons with 2nd and 3rd grade students, helped students to understand the concept of local food, and enjoyed apples alongside them. The students described the apples as “marvelous”, “tasty”, and “amazing”. A win-win for the school district, the farmers, and the Santa Rosa HEAL Zone.
- 3 Elementary Schools currently engaged in HEAL activities
- Harvest of the Month nutrition education currently being taught in grades 2nd through 5th, by Sonoma State University nursing student interns and teachers
- Local Sonoma County apples served for October Harvest of the Month classroom tasting
- Physical activity being promoted in the classroom by teachers leading “instant recess”
- Physical activity being promoted during recess by Sonoma State University kinesiology student interns leading “active recess”
- Safe Routes to School classroom education being taught in grades 3rd through 5th by Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition
- Safe Routes to School monthly school-wide participation in a “Golden Sneaker” competition
Healthy Food Outlet Project (HFOP)
- Six (6) stores currently participating
- Three (3) more identified to participate
- Two (2) met requirements from the April 2012 CX3 Food Store Assessment
See the project highlighted in the Center for Civic Partnerships Issue Brief on healthy corner stores.
- Eight (8) participating restaurants
- Will be working with community members in the upcoming months to identify additional restaurants for Smart Meal participation
- Also looking at possibly approaching mobile vendors (i.e. taco trucks) to participate in Smart Meal
- Since 2009, 47 residents have been trained through the South Santa Rosa HEAL Leadership Training
- Currently 10 residents are working on activities ranging from improving school meals to Safe Routes to School activities to improving a school garden at one of the HEAL schools
GUEST OPINION: Santa Rosa 'HEAL' Zones Target Obesity