LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Los Angeles will be the primary beneficiary of a $14 million federal grant announced Wednesday, Oct. 1, aimed at decreasing obesity and related health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant will be awarded over four-years to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, which must use it on the largest city within the county.
Much of the grant will be used for programs located in Los Angeles or that benefit Angelenos, county officials said. The funded programs could include those that increase people’s ability to adopt health habits, suc sh as making health food more readily available and improving streets to encourage people to exercise more. The funds could also go toward forming better partnerships between hospitals and health clinics that serve patients at risk for chronic diseases.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said he wants to receive funding “to design and build safe, walkable streets to increase exercise, health and a stronger sense of community.”
He added each Los Angeles neighborhood should have a “great street that makes it easy to walk to school, work and shopping.”
The mayor earlier this year unveiled a list of 15 streets — one for each council district — that would receive improvements under his “Great Streets” initiative.
The “Great Streets” include two segments of Van Nuys Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley, Crenshaw Boulevard in South Los Angeles, Cesar Chavez Avenue in Boyle Heights and Western Avenue in Koreatown.
“We’re very excited with the mayor’s focus on streets and trying to make them vibrant for all users,” said Dr. Paul Simon, director of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention for the County Public Health Department.
The funds will likely go toward developing plans for the Great Streets initiative, Simon said.
He added the grant could also help the Los Angeles Food Policy Council develop a group purchasing plan for neighborhood markets so they can obtain fruits, vegetables and other grocery goods at lower prices.
Meal programs for youth and seniors, including those run by the city, could also receive funding, Simon said.
The county’s interim health officer, Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, said local municipalities have had to take on more of the “burden” of dealing with the “cost of managing chronic diseases.”
“Across the nation, chron ic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes remain leading causes of disability, poor quality of life, high health care costs and death, accounting for 7 of 10 deaths among Americans each year,” he said.