Endeavor Foundation announced today that it will provide $421,112 to 12 recipients in support of EnergizeNWA, a community-led initiative to increase access to healthy food and physical activity.
The awarded projects embrace a focus on long-term systemic change, multi-sector partnerships, and meeting the needs of underserved populations across Northwest Arkansas.
“We received 42 proposals requesting over $1.6 million, and are excited to fund the projects with the most potential to improve the way we design our communities and to nurture a culture that supports a healthy lifestyle," said Anita Scism, president and CEO of Endeavor Foundation. "In order for Northwest Arkansas to embrace these ideas, the healthy choice needs to be easy, safe, affordable and accessible."
The grants will advance a set of common healthy eating and active living goals, reflecting the input received from more than 200 leaders at the EnergizeNWA Summit in January.
One grant awarded to the city of Bentonville will develop sidewalks on both sides of Southeast Sixth Street between South Main Street and Southeast E Street, creating an east-west corridor to provide pedestrian access to the Bentonville Public Library, Austin-Baggett Park, the Razorback Regional Greenway and various businesses and restaurants. Similarly, a grant to the city of Fayetteville will create three east-west bikeways along low-traffic routes to encourage biking. It will connect schools, low-income neighborhoods, and area amenities.
Several grants focus on increasing alternative transportation routes near schools. A grant to the Bicycle Coalition of the Ozarks will help put new alternate transportation routes to good use.
"The percentage of children walking or bicycling to school decreased from 50 percent in 1969 to just 13 percent in 2009,” said Paxton Roberts, executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of the Ozarks. “The EnergizeNWA grant will allow us to put programs and infrastructure in place that make it safer for kids to stay fit by walking or biking to school.”
Furthermore, Bentonville and Fayetteville school districts were awarded grants to expand bicycle education programs, and Elmdale Elementary School in Springdale will start a new course that builds on lessons learned from other schools in the region.
The Bentonville School District will complement its biking programs with cooking seminars, healthy snack and lunch offerings, and food labeling efforts to identify and promote nutritious choices for students in grades 3-12. This nutrition component supports multiple recommendations from the EnergizeNWA Summit that education is necessary to encourage people to eat healthy foods.
Other grants to support a healthier food culture include funding for Cooking Matters courses led by Community Clinic and the Boys and Girls Club of Benton County. Developed by the national organization Share Our Strength and hosted at the state level by the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, Cooking Matters teaches participants how to purchase healthy food on a budget, and to use healthy ingredients to prepare delicious and nutritious meals. Similarly, a grant to Bridges to Wellness in Siloam Springs will involve Hispanic communities — representing about 20 percent of the Siloam Springs population — in developing culturally appropriate programs such as cooking classes using traditional ingredients to improve their own health.
Feed Communities, an organization with the vision of supporting and expanding local food systems to provide durable food security solutions, was a key facilitator of the January summit and an early program partner of EnergizeNWA. Feed Communities will play a lead coordination role in EnergizeNWA by working with schools, community organizations, and other grantees to improve food equity and nutrition education in Benton and Washington counties.
2013 EnergizeNWA Grantees
· Bentonville School District - Wellness Program
· Bicycle Coalition of the Ozarks – Regional Safe Routes to School Project
· Boys & Girls Club of Benton County – Cooking Matters Program
· Bridges to Wellness – Siloam Springs Collaborative Community Health Project
· City of Bentonville - East-West Sidewalk Project
· City of Fayetteville - East-West Bikeway Project
· Community Clinic - Cooking Matters & Healthy Weight Programs
· Elmdale Elementary School - School Bike Program
· Fayetteville Boys & Girls Club - Fitness Trail and Outdoor Gym
· Fayetteville Schools - Bike Education Program
· Northwest Arkansas Council - Regional Food Assessment
· Tri Cycle Farms – Neighborhood Produce Market