The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has announced grants totaling $4.8 million to twenty-one faith-based coalitions across the country working to prevent childhood obesity.
According to the foundation, alliances of churches, mosques, synagogues, and other faith groups are playing an increasingly important role in addressing critical public issues such as childhood obesity. Part of a new multimillion-dollar initiative, the two-year grants of up to $225,000 will support programs designed to increase access to healthy foods and physical activity through community advocacy and outreach efforts.
The organizations receiving grants will work to advance policy and environmental changes in the towns and cities they serve. For instance, in Raleigh, North Carolina, faith-based youth groups in five counties will learn how to engage in community change around fitness and nutrition issues, while in Hartford, Connecticut, churches will form partnerships with community vendors and retailers to create sustainable access to fresh produce.
RWJF has committed $500 million over five years to reverse the obesity epidemic in the United States by 2015. "The immense challenge we face in reversing the trend of childhood obesity is a shared responsibility [and] all parts of society must be engaged if we are going to succeed," said Dwayne C. Proctor, director of RWJF's childhood obesity team. "We called upon the faith-based community to help us meet our challenge and, not surprisingly, this community responded strongly."
For a complete list of recipients, see the RWJF Web site.