The “Healthy Pontiac, We Can” (HPWC) coalition, facilitated by Oakland County Health Division, was recognized last night with an Innovations in Health Care Award at the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan’s (NKFM) Champion of Hope Tribute Dinner for their efforts to prevent chronic health conditions in the City of Pontiac. The award was presented by the Kidney Foundation, Michigan State Medical Society and Michigan Association of Health Plans. HPWC also received a special tribute from State of Michigan Senator Jim Marlaeu for “their extraordinary success in improving the health of Pontiac.”
HPWC received the award for their work to improve access to fruits and vegetables through local produce markets in Pontiac where some families face economic barriers to buying healthy foods.
“The Healthy Pontiac, We Can coalition is improving the quality of life for Pontiac residents by improving their access to healthier lifestyles,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. “These awards show that the Health Pontiac, We Can coalition is a model program for Michigan and the nation. Congratulations on a job well done.”
The coalition has worked with key partners to create and sustain these produce markets that accept food stamps (SNAP/EBT), offer on-site nutrition education and healthy recipe demonstrations, and bi-lingual marketing aimed at engaging the city’s Hispanic population.
“The key to the success of this effort is community collaboration,” said Kathy Forzley, Health Division manager/health officer. “Many local partners have come together with a shared goal of increasing healthier eating to reduce chronic disease and health disparities. Healthy Pontiac, We Can is a premier example of a coalition’s impact on public health and the strength of partnership.”
HPWC, on behalf of Oakland County Health Division, has received funding and technical support from Michigan Department of Community Health 4×4 and SNAP-Ed grants and a National REACH Coalition Community Transformation grant to support these efforts.
Other project partners include: All Saints Episcopal Church, Centro Multicultural La Familia, Gleaners Community Food Bank, Oakland Livingston Human Service Agency (OLHSA), and Oakland University. The Oakland County Small Business Center has provided consultation to assist market leaders to strengthen business practices and help sustain their efforts.
The weekly produce markets are located: All Saints Episcopal Church, 171 West Pike St., Pontiac, Saturdays 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; and Oakland Livingston Human Service Agency (OLHSA), 196 Cesar Chavez Ave., Pontiac, Tuesdays 11 a.m.-1 p.m. SNAP/EBT is accepted at both markets.
About Healthy Pontiac, We Can
Oakland County Health Division, under the leadership of Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, organized the Healthy Pontiac, We Can coalition in 2011 to help the Pontiac community eat healthy, get active, and live tobacco free. It is a diverse coalition which includes leaders in primary and preventive health care, mental health, human service agencies, education, the religious community, governmental agencies, and local residents. For more information, visit www.healthypontiac.org or find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/healthypontiac.mi.