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Making Healthy Living Easier

Making Healthy Living Easier By Kimberly Morris

Healthy eating is at the cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle. A healthy diet can lower our risk of illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, as well as defend against depression. However, many people nation-wide have limited access to fresh fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods, while the availability of nutrient-poor foods and beverages are plentiful. With obesity and its health-related diseases on the rise, now is the time for the places that we live, work, learn, worship and play to take action to make healthy eating easier. There are many things that communities can do to improve healthy food access. Some of these activities include farmers markets, community gardens, community supported agriculture or mobile produce vendors. Corner stores or local food markets are another place that can provide healthier foods and beverages. Schools, worksites, faith communities and parks can make sure healthy options are available in vending machines and cafeterias or during meetings and events.

Recognizing the role that municipal government and community-based organizations can play in supporting healthy eating, the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association in partnership with the Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) and the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC) are engaging south suburban communities with the launch of the Healthy Hot Spot Initiative. This three-year initiative aims to multiply the number of places that make healthy living easier in suburban Cook County by increasing the number of corner stores with expanded healthy food and beverage options. In year one, SSMMA will work with municipal leaders, community based organizations and corner store owners to increase healthy food access in the five target communities of Blue Island, Chicago Heights, Ford Heights, Harvey and Riverdale.

If you are a local official, represent a community institution or a member of a community/faith based organization in one of these communities and want to get involved please contact Kimberly Morris at or (708) 922-4672. For more information on the Healthy Hot Spot Initiative please visit Healthy Hot Spot is made possible, in part, with funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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