City of Somerville awarded five medals recognizing achievements in addressing childhood obesity through Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties
The National League of Cities (NLC) has recognized Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone and the city’s Shape Up Somerville initiative for recent completion of key health and wellness goals for Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties (LMCTC). LMCTC is a major component of First Lady Michelle Obama’s comprehensive Let’s Move! initiative, which is dedicated to solving the childhood obesity epidemic within a generation.
“We applaud local elected officials in Somerville for stepping up to the challenge of Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties and making measurable progress in their efforts to improve children’s health,” said NLC President Ted Ellis, mayor of Bluffton, IN.
Five medals – two gold, one silver, and two bronze – were awarded to Shape Up Somerville for action taken to improve access to healthy affordable food and increase opportunities for physical activity. Medals were awarded for Shape Up Somerville’s achievements in the areas of early childhood nutrition programs; healthy dining, vending, and farmer market programs; universal free breakfast and free/reduced lunch programs in all public schools; a model food and nutrition service program; and increasing opportunities for physical activity.
In the ten years since its inception, Shape Up Somerville has been successfully integrated into every aspect of municipal policy-making, from recreation programming and parks expansion to school food services, and from urban agriculture and farmers markets programs to transit-, pedestrian-, and bike-friendly development strategies. Through the partnership with LMCTC and the support of the National League of Cities and First Lady Michelle Obama, recent accomplishments have included securing interagency collaboration, through Head Start, to build a Family Learning Collaborative and health food program for preschool students; offering universal free breakfast to students in grades K-8, with the addition of fresh salad bars and health vending options in all schools by the end of the 2013-14 school year; and the creation of policies and ordinances around school recess, urban agriculture and zoning, multimodal transit options (including painting more than 25 miles of bike lanes in the last three years and a regional bike share program), and increasing numbers of play spaces for resident of all ages.
“Every policy decision we make is guided by one orienting value: making Somerville a great place to live, work, play and raise a family. Our work on core issues such as increasing access to fresh, wholesome foods and opportunities for physical activity has helped us to cultivate a healthier, happier, and more productive community,” said Mayor Curtatone. “As the most densely populated, and one of the most diverse communities in New England, the challenge of nurturing healthy eating and lifestyles is greatly increased by cultural and economic diversity as well as a lack of open space for outdoor recreation. With the support of First Lady Obama and LMCTC, we have made great strides in these areas, and we are honored to be considered among some of the nation’s most successful communities on this issue.”
All LMCTC sites have the opportunity to earn up to five gold medals, one for each actionable goal they commit to as part of the initiative. The five goal areas are:
- Goal 1: Start Early, Start Smart: Promoting best practices for nutrition, physical activity, and screen time in early care and education settings
- Goal 2: My Plate, Your Place: Prominently displaying MyPlate in all municipal or county venues where food is served
- Goal 3: Smart Servings for Students: Increasing participation in school breakfast and lunch programs
- Goal 4: Model Food Service: Implementing healthy and sustainable food service guidelines that are aligned with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans
- Goal 5: Active Kids at Play: Increasing opportunities for physical activity
The National League of Cities (NLC) is the lead collaborating partner on this initiative, working with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Association of Counties, and other nonprofit organizations, in assisting local elected officials to implement policy and environmental changes to prevent childhood obesity. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has awarded NLC a grant to provide technical assistance to local elected officials working to create healthier communities and prevent childhood obesity, including sites participating in LMCTC.
More than 160 cities, towns and counties are participating in LMCTC. NLC awarded 541 medals to local elected officials across the country, recognizing these leaders for their progress in adopting long-term, sustainable, and holistic policies that improve communities’ access to healthy affordable food and opportunities for physical activity.
For more information about LMCTC and Shape Up Somerville’s accomplishments, visit www.healthycommunitieshealthyfuture.org.
The National League of Cities (NLC) is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. Working in partnership with the 49 state municipal leagues, NLC serves as a resource to and an advocate for the more than 19,000 cities, villages and towns it represents.