The Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation (HPHCF) today announced that it will award $4 million in grants and services to regional organizations to combat childhood obesity and health disparities. ChildObesity180 at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy in Boston and MaineHealth of Portland, Maine will each receive $1.5 million over three years to bolster their efforts to stem the epidemic of childhood obesity by expanding promising campaigns that promote healthier environments and lifestyles for young people. The Foundation’s Culture InSight program—which provides consulting, training and educational programs to healthcare organizations and professionals to improve care provided to populations and communities affected by health disparities—will contribute $1 million in technical assistance and consultation services over three years to five organizations throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. HPHCF has partnered with the Center for Social Policy at the University of Massachusetts Bostonto assess the impacts related to these grants and services.
“Childhood obesity and healthcare disparities not only impact those operating within the healthcare industry but, more importantly, are issues which families across our region and country struggle with every day,” said Eric Schultz, President and Chief Executive Officer of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. “At Harvard Pilgrim, we recognize our responsibility to support and expand innovative initiatives that inform, educate and engage children, their families, those on the front lines of health care, and the broader community, and help change
behaviors and improve people’s lives.”
The organizations that will receive training and technical assistance from HPHCF’s Culture InSight program through 2015 are: NH Health & Equity Partnership, coordinated by the Foundation for Healthy Communities, Concord, NH; Health Resources in Action and Neighborhood Health Plan of Boston, MA; Advocates, Inc. of Framingham, MA; and the Hanley Center of Portland, ME. With Culture InSight’s support, organizational development and training services, the five nonprofit agencies will work with local organizations to plan and
deliver effective health care services and programs.
“The organizations we have chosen to support have clearly demonstrated that healthy communities are possible for everyone. Our grants and service will support the replication of promising programs and strategies so that more communities can benefit from proven programs that enhance health and well-being,” said Karen Voci, Executive Director of the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation.
Part of the Foundation’s Growing Up Healthy initiative, the $3 million investment by HPHCF to fight childhood obesity marks the largest single financial commitment the nonprofit has made to date. ChildObesity180, led by researchers at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, will use the funding for its Healthy Kids Out of School initiative, that unites out-of-school time organizations around nutrition and physical activity principles and connects them with resources to implement change. The program emphasizes simple yet meaningful changes—substituting water for sugary drinks, encouraging physical activity, and serving fruits
and vegetables as snacks —which can result in healthy habits that last a lifetime.
MaineHealth, the largest health system in Northern New England, will use the additional resources provided by HPHCF to expand its successful childhood obesity prevention initiative, “Let’s Go! Healthcare,” to more than 190 primary care physicians and 14 hospitals in Maine, Grafton and Hillsborough Counties in New Hampshire and Worcester County in Massachusetts. This multi-level program —designed to help prevent, assess and treat childhood obesity— will provide health care professionals with the resources, training, tools, techniques and support they need to influence the children and families in their care.
For more than 30 years, HPHCF has provided the funding, tools, training and leadership which help build healthy communities. Through grants to evidence-based programs in schools and afterschool programs, support for policy development and advocacy, training and consultation, and by publishing research, HPHCF seeks to highlight and demonstrate effective and sustainable strategies to address disparities in healthcare and the long-term risks associated with childhood obesity.
Created in 1980, The Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation supports Harvard Pilgrim’s mission to improve the quality and value of health care for the people and communities we serve by providing the tools, training and leadership to help build healthy communities throughout New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine. Since its inception, the Foundation has distributed more than $123 million in funds. In 2011, the Harvard Pilgrim Foundation awarded more than $1.3 million in grants to almost 1,000 nonprofit organizations within the three states. For more information, please visit http://www.harvardpilgrim.org/foundation.