Fit NOLA Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana Project Brings $2.2 Million to Support Neighborhood Parks and Fresh Food Access

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Funding from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation and pledged matching funds from community partner organizations

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“The Fit NOLA Project showcases our commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of all Louisianans through innovative, collaborative partnerships,” said Joe Kimbrell, CEO of LPHI.

The Fit NOLA Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana Project, led by the Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI), in partnership with the City of New Orleans Health Department, is slated to receive a total of $2.2 million in funding from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation and pledged matching funds from community partner organizations to increase use of neighborhood parks and access to healthy foods in three underserved neighborhoods. The project will work to transform policies, systems and the environment in parks and surrounding neighborhoods to address barriers to both physical activity and access to healthy food.

Additional Fit NOLA Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana Project partners include the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission, New Orleans Recreation Development Foundation, Market Umbrella, Tulane Prevention Research Center, Daughters of Charity Services of New Orleans, South Broad Community Health Clinic, Norwood Thompson Booster Club, Friends of Taylor Park, St. Roch Improvement Association, New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation, New Orleans Police Department, Hollygrove Market and Farm, and Wholesome Wave.

As a primary strategy, the Fit NOLA Project will create innovative linkages between community health clinics, parks, and farmers markets in the St. Roch, Gert Town, and Hoffman Triangle-Central City neighborhoods, with a goal of connecting approximately 64,000 residents with new opportunities for family-oriented physical activities, nutritious foods, and community centered health clinics that support and promote better nutrition and increased physical activity to improve long-term, community health outcomes.

Approximately $1 million in funds was provided by the Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana, a statewide grant program pioneered by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation. The Fit NOLA Project will also be matched by $1.2 million in pledged support from the partner organizations, bringing the total impact to $2.2 million.

“The Fit NOLA Project showcases our commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of all Louisianans through innovative, collaborative partnerships,” said Joe Kimbrell, CEO of LPHI.

NORD Commission parks participating in the Fit NOLA Project will offer new, weekly recreational activity options for people of all ages and skill levels and healthy food options will be offered at concession stands. Surrounding churches, neighborhood associations, and community members will be engaged to identify physical activity programs of interest to residents. Police officers and volunteer reservists will provide increased security at the parks to encourage greater use. Additionally, three Community Centered Health Home clinics (Daughters of Charity Services Carrollton, St. Cecelia, and South Broad Community Health) will be engaged to provide diabetic patients and expectant mothers with vouchers redeemable for fresh fruits and vegetables at nearby farmers markets.

“This project is a major step for the Fit NOLA partnership and moves us in the right direction towards achieving our goal of making New Orleans one of the country's most fit cities by 2013,” said Karen DeSalvo, Health Commissioner for the City of New Orleans and Senior Health Policy Advisor to the Mayor.

“We are very excited about this partnership and the opportunity to address the challenges in our community while promoting healthier and more active lifestyles,” said Victor Richard, CEO of the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission.

Statewide, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation awarded 12 projects approximately $10.2 million in Foundation grants, which sparked $16.8 million in matching funds from community organization partners. As a result, the Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana grant program is dedicating $27 million to innovative community partnerships that promote healthy eating and active living. In New Orleans, three programs – the Fit NOLA Project, Generation K, and Growing LA - now have a total of $6.4 million in funding to help residents adopt healthier lifestyles.

Throughout the funding period, which begins Sept. 1, the Blue Cross Foundation will work with Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge to administer the grants and measure their effectiveness, helping to improve the health of Louisiana communities. The progress of the programs will be posted at http://www.ourhomelouisiana.org.

About the Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI)
Founded in 1997, The Louisiana Public Health Institute’s mission is to promote and improve the health and quality of life in Louisiana through public-private partnering at the community, parish and state levels. By fostering collaborative endeavors in the areas of health information, public policy, applied research, and community capacity enhancement, LPHI works to develop community-oriented solutions that improve the health of the Louisiana population. For more information, visit http://www.lphi.org.

About the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation is building a healthier Louisiana through community outreach and charitable giving. Its two signature programs are The Angel Award®, an annual statewide recognition program that awards funds to outstanding Louisianians working to improve the quality of life of the state’s children, and Smart Bodies®, an interactive
education program to prevent childhood obesity. In addition, Blue Cross contributes nearly $2
million annually in financial aid to various non-profit organizations throughout the state that contribute to health, education and the overall quality of life in our communities. When we put dollars into Blue Cross communities, it makes Louisiana a better place for everyone. The Foundation is funded solely through Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana.

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Mary Martin Fein
Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI)
(504) 301-9814
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