On May 7, 2009, Leadership for Healthy Communities (LHC), a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, presented its first-ever Healthy Communities Leadership Award to five outstanding elected and appointed officials who were recognized for implementing innovative policies and programs that promote healthy eating, increased physical activity and childhood obesity prevention. Chosen from more than 40 nominees representing states, localities and school districts nationwide, the five award recipients were Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York City, NY; Superintendent Roel Gonzalez, Rio Grande City Consolidated Independent School District, Rio Grande,Texas; Mayor Darwin Hindman, Columbia, Mo.; Mayor Gavin Newsom, San Francisco, Calif.; and Mayor Claude Ramsey, Hamilton County, Tenn.
Their approaches illustrate a wide variety of policies that can help prevent childhood obesity:
- In New York, Mayor Bloomberg helped make that city the first in the nation to require fast-food and chain restaurants to provide nutrition information on menus. It also was the first city to adopt formal nutrition standards for schools and city agencies.
- In the Rio Grande City Consolidated Independent school district, Superintendent Gonzalez eliminated fried foods, desserts, whole milk and fat-laden salad dressings from cafeteria menus. Gonzalez also opened up school facilities for community use during after-school hours.
- In Columbia, Mayor Hindman’s leadership in active transportation helped the city secure a $25 million federal grant. It has used the funding to develop a network of walking and biking trails that connect businesses and shopping centers to parks, schools and neighborhoods.
- In San Francisco, Mayor Newsom supported an ordinance expanding farmers’ markets in lower-income communities and requiring vendors to accept payment from federal, state and local food assistance programs. He also provided funding to 25 public schools for salad bars featuring locally grown produce and whole-grain breads.
- In Hamilton County, Mayor Ramsey launched an initiative to make school facilities available to children and families outside of school hours. The county partnered with schools, restaurants and community groups to promote healthy menu selections and reasonable portion sizes using cartoon characters created by DC and Marvel Comics artists.
The leaders were recognized during an awards dinner at Leadership for Healthy Communities’ second biennial Childhood Obesity Prevention Summit, which was held May 7-8, 2009 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C.
To see acceptance speeches from each of the honorees, please select a video.