Live Well Omaha’s (LWO) relationship building with new partners brought vital sources of energy and diverse perspectives that enabled it to evolve as a collaborative. Underlying the strong organizational ties were trusting, reciprocal bonds among key individuals who worked closely together. Over time, LWO also developed mutually supportive relationships with funders and leveraged meaningful connections with peers outside Omaha to launch new projects and refine approaches to local challenges.
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While many Omaha residents struggle to eat nutritious food and stay physically active, the city is on the move toward a healthier future. Leading these efforts is Live Well Omaha (LWO), an umbrella group of more than 35 organizations. Along with its lead collaborator, the Douglas County Health Department (DCHD), LWO has built on existing collaborative programs, including an effective social marketing campaign promoting healthy living as an important component of community pride. Other critical partners include Alegent Creighton Health, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska, Wellness Council of the Midlands, Omaha Public Schools and the City of Omaha.
“Omaha has an incredible sense of community pride and quality of life,” project director Anne Meysenburg said. “By making the case that active living and healthy eating play a significant role in the health of children, we can harness that community support for our goals.”
The Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities (HKHC) initiative in Omaha enabled LWO and DCHD to improve access to affordable healthy foods, especially fresh produce, through community gardens, farmers’ markets, grocery stores and vendors participating in the federal WIC program. The partners also broadened Safe Routes to School efforts in Omaha and worked with planners to update the city’s master plan to better integrate healthy development.
The Douglas County Health Department created a successful farmers’ market at Charles Drew Health Center and WIC office. In addition, this coincided with Nebraska’s first USDA-funded WIC Farmers’ Market coupon program, which serves over 3,000 individuals and families each year.