By Bryan Barnett-Woods
NLC’s Sustainable Cities Institute profiles Baton Rouge, Louisiana in a new case study, The Mayor’s Healthy City Initiative: Promoting Health and Nutrition through Collaboration.
The City of Baton Rouge and Parish of East Baton Rouge are committed to promoting healthy nutrition and active lifestyle choices in the community. With a myriad of strong health organizations working together through Mayor-President Kip Holden’s Mayor’s Healthy City Initiative (MHCI), and as an active participant in First Lady Michelle Obama’s, Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties initiative, Baton Rouge is actively taking steps to improve the health of its residents.
The case study highlights how the Mayor’s Healthy City Initiative fosters collaboration and communication between the many partner organizations within the city, and addresses key health issues for Baton Rouge residents, such as healthy eating, HIV and STD prevention and awareness, and obesity prevention. The MHCI is composed of three branches, or advisory boards: HealthyBR (which focuses on preventing negative health outcomes through encouraging healthier eating and more active lifestyles), MedBR (which addresses access to care and public health outcomes), and the Innovation Center (which focuses on research and data analysis to help understand community health and set ambitious goals for the future). Together, these three branches research, coordinate, and implement best practices to create a healthier Baton Rouge.
The case study also features successful programs the MHCI has implemented, such as the Fresh Beginnings Grant Program. The city has used this grant program to establish a Food Access Policy Commission to research and determine solutions for specific community needs. The city also partners with the Red Stick Farmer’s Market to open mobile farmer’s markets that visit underserved neighborhoods and offer healthy food choices. Finally, the city is implementing a Healthy Corner Store initiative under this grant program, which will provide increased access to healthy foods at corner stores.
The MHCI’s priorities align with those of Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties, which aims to end childhood obesity by encouraging healthier eating and increased physical activity. Baton Rouge was recently recognized by Let’s Move! for exceptional achievement in creating a healthier community for children and increasing access to healthy, affordable foods.
Recognizing that healthy nutrition and active living are multifaceted issues, the MHCI greatly benefits from its coalition of partners, capitalizing on the expertise of a wide array of community stakeholders to promote good nutrition and healthy living. And by participating in Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties, Baton Rouge is making significant steps toward ending childhood obesity and ensuring that children in the community are on the path to a healthy future.