HKHC: Central Valley, California

July 2014

The 240-mile long San Joaquin Valley is a major agricultural region encompassing eight counties (Kern, Kings, Tulare, Fresno, Madera, Merced, Stanislaus, and San Joaquin) in central California. However, residents, many of them migrant workers, are often unable to enjoy the abundance of food grown all around them. People here have among the lowest per capita income, highest rate of poverty and least educational attainment in the state. All are factors contributing to pronounced rates of overweight and obesity, particularly among youth.

However, as a result of the Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program (CCROPP) and the Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities (HKHC) partnership, the Valley’s outlook is changing. CCROPP, the lead agency for HKHC, brought together eight community-based organizations and community partners to build the capacity of community residents as advocates for change in improving local food and physical activity environments.

From 2008 through early 2013, they achieved several key milestones. These include:

The impact of the HKHC work has been profound at a personal level for participants as well as at the community level where they reside. “Our project has led to more empowered community residents and also to increased policy and environmental change efforts to support healthy eating and active living,” said HKHC project director Genoveva Islas-Hooker. “We have a ways to go. But with our region-wide network of strong community leaders, I see vast potential for improvement in the health of all people in the Valley.”