Press Release: Childhood Obesity Specialist

Floyd County Groups Win Grant for Childhood Obesity Prevention Specialist / October 18,2010

Floyd, Virginia – The Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth has granted the Multi-Disciplinary (MD) Team of Floyd County $59,841 to fund the hiring of a childhood obesity prevention specialist.  New River Valley Community Services (NRVCS) will oversee the contract.  NRVCS, SustainFloyd, Plenty! and the Floyd County Student Health Advisory Board (SHAB) served as the primary partners in writing the grant application. The new specialist is expected to develop a strategic plan for sustaining obesity prevention programs for Floyd County children.

The Multi-Disciplinary Team is a non-profit organization of human service professionals and civic organizations whose mission is to enhance the quality of life for children, families, and vulnerable adults in Floyd County by improving access to health, wellness, and educational opportunities.

Michael Burton, SustainFloyd Director, was instrumental in the MD Team’s applying for the grant.

“The opportunity came to my attention as something that might assist SustainFloyd’s Farm to School Program, but then we started envisioning more possibilities,” said Burton.  “We met with Kathy Kenley at Community Services, looked at kindred community programs and decided on a more community-wide approach.”

Kathy Kenley, CPP, Prevention Services Supervisor of NRVCS will supervise the new obesity prevention specialist.

“The obesity epidemic in our nation, including Floyd, is a tremendous liability to community wellness,” said Ms. Kenley. “Obesity prevention is a new frontier for us, and we’re very excited to be a part of this project.”

The Floyd Farmers Market, where County residents can buy locally grown produce,  Plenty!, a group that  delivers produce to families and organizes school and community gardens, SustainFloyd’s Farm-to-School Program and other efforts were cited in the grant application as contributing to the County’s work to prevent childhood obesity.  The prevention specialist will assess and coordinate the various programs to provide an organized, county-wide approach to the prevention of childhood obesity.

The Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ranked Virginia 23rd in obesity prevalence among the nation’s youth.  Statewide, nearly a third (31%) of Virginia’s youth are considered overweight or obese.  In Southwest Virginia, 28% of children are obese.  Specifically, in Floyd County, 45% of 1st,  3rd, 5th and 7th-graders in Floyd and Willis schools were found to be overweight or at risk of being overweight.

The new childhood obesity prevention specialist is expected to analyze trends in County childhood obesity, and formulate a list of action items to encourage better nutrition and physical activity for Floyd County children.  For instance, the specialist could help implement  procedures allowing vendors at local farmers markets to accept government food vouchers for families; formulate ways to improve the funding of outreach, education and transportation to encourage the use of local farmers markets by lower-income residents; and suggest ideas to develop community and school gardens.

Formerly known as the Virginia Tobacco Settlement Foundation, the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth was established by the Virginia General Assembly to lead statewide efforts to reduce and prevent youth tobacco use and childhood obesity.

SustainFloyd is a grassroots community organization dedicated to preserving, enhancing and supporting a resilient local economy. For more information email or call Mike Burton at 540 250 0111.

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