Helping Make Healthy Choices Easier in Blue Island
Thanks to a $75,000 Model Communities grant awarded from the Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) and the Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago, the City of Blue Island advanced local efforts to address obesity prevention for our community. The Model Communities program was a part of a nationwide effort of developing local-level policy, system and environmental change to promote increased access to healthy foods and having safe places to be physically active. From Feb 2011 – June 2012, we worked with Active Transportation Alliance, Health Connect One & Delta Institute to join the movement in making healthy choices easy and available throughout suburban Cook County by the following:
- Development of Blue Island Community Health Coalition;
- Adoption of an Active Transportation Plan to connect priority destinations in the community and create a network of walking, biking and transit routes;
- Adoption of a Complete Streets ordinance;
- Completion of a food system assessment and creation of a food system steering committee to look at ways to expand access to healthy food;
- Expansion of plots at Memorial Park Community Garden and creation of a new community garden at California Gardens Community Garden;
- Adoption of a breastfeeding-friendly worksite policy for City employees and provide assistance to other area employers to create their own policies.
In addition, the City’s grant supported MetroSouth Medical Center in implementing 5 of the 10 Baby Friendly Steps per the WHO Baby Friendly USA designation.
Highlights and Successes
- Blue Island passed Illinois first Complete Streets ordinance in July of 2011.
- An Active Transportation Plan was completed and adopted on February 28, 2012.
- Blue Island expanded an existing community garden, as well as broke ground on a new one.
- A Community Food System Assessment and Food Sector Recommendations report was completed in May 2012.
- The City of Blue Island Blue Island adopted an employee lactation support policy for City Hall and the MetroSouth Medical Center in Fall 2011.
- MetroSouth Medical Center drafted and adopted a new policy on skin-to-skin practice for new moms and babies in November 2011.
- Blue Island Community Health Coalition was formalized.
- 2 Blue Island corner stores participated in the Healthy Hotspots, healthy corner store program.
Sustainability of PSE changes
- The coalition will continue to work on public health issues in Blue Island beyond the Model Communities grant period.
- The City received a site plan and implementation steps for the garden to guide its development over the next several years.
For more information on the Model Communities Program, contact Jodi Prout or visit www.cookcountypublichealth.org.