$240,000 CDC grant aims to improve health in Norfolk’s minority neighborhoods

Story Date: Tue, 24 Dec 2013 08:39:00 EST

A $240,000 REACH grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been awarded to EVMS on behalf of the Healthy Norfolk coalition, says Amy Paulson, MPH, coordinator of the grant and Executive Director of the Consortium for Infant and Child Health based at EVMS.

REACH is an acronym for Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health. The grant will enable Healthy Norfolk to improve health in neighborhoods that have large populations of racial and ethnic minorities. Strategies include helping restaurants add healthful menu options and identifying opportunities to improve fitness and nutrition in workplaces and faith-based communities.

“The goal is to make the healthy choice the easy choice,” Ms. Paulson says. “For instance, if a church kitchen has a deep-fat fryer, we might suggest removing it and installing another oven.”

To that end, Ms. Paulson is asking Norfolk residents to suggest restaurants, churches and businesses serving high-minority populations that could be candidates for implementing healthy-community initiatives. To submit a recommendation, call 757.668.6426 or email cinch@evms.edu.

Another aspect of the grant will focus on the City of Norfolk’s development of a comprehensive bicycle-pedestrian plan. Paul Forehand, a project manager with the city's Department of Recreation, Parks and Open Space, says the plan will have a positive impact on commuting, recreation and tourism. “Making Norfolk more bike- and pedestrian-friendly,” he explains, “makes it more appealing to tourists, and that creates an economic benefit to the city. It also reduces traffic and enhances recreation options for residents.”

After a series of citizen-input sessions and public hearings, the master plan will comprise a network of bike and pedestrian routes that link work centers, libraries, schools, parks and the city’s light-rail line, The Tide. Costs of developing the routes will then be determined. “This will put the city in a better position for future grant funding that will help knit the network together,” Mr. Forehand adds.

Work funded by the CDC grant begins in January and continues through August.

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