KC Healthy Kids is one of five organizations selected to participate in the Kansas Health Foundation’s Statewide Partnership for a Healthier Kansas initiative.
Through a $450,000 three-year grant, KC Healthy Kids plans to engage a statewide coalition to promote policies that improve access to healthy food, especially in low-income urban and rural communities.
“More than 14% of Wyandotte County residents lived in food deserts in 2011, and typically, those underserved communities have an abundance of fast-food restaurants,” said Beth Low, KC Healthy Kids’ vice president on policy and public affairs.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, food deserts are defined as urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food.
This lack of access contributes to a poor diet and can lead to higher levels of obesity and other diet-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. These conditions also impact academic achievement for children and work productivity for adults.
KC Healthy Kids will work with the people living in food deserts to identify their unique needs and then promote policies – for new grocery stores, farmers markets, urban farms and gardens, and healthy food in convenience stores – that serve those needs.
Additionally, KC Healthy Kids will focus on practices and policies that could create food hubs, encourage employer-sponsored community supported agriculture programs or farmers markets, boost state support for Farm to School programs, and influence state policies requiring local food purchasing.
The Statewide Partnerships for a Healthier Kansas initiative and all five organizations selected (KC Healthy Kids, The American Heart Association, Kansas Action for Children, Kansas Hospital Education and Research Foundation/Kansas Hospital Association, Kansas Rural Center) are working towards increasing consumption of healthy foods, increasing consumption of water, reducing overconsumption of sugary drinks and supporting health-promoting food and beverage retailing and distribution policies.