The Healthy Eating Working Group is affiliated with the Community Health Network of North Central Massachusetts (CHNA 9), a network of community health stakeholders working to improve health equity in our region. The Healthy Eating Working group is charged with advancing the Healthy Eating strategies that have been identified in the CHNA9 Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP).

CHIP GOAL: Create an environment that supports people’s ability to make healthy eating and active living choices in their community.

Objective:  Assess barriers to accessing affordable fruits and vegetables in North Central and implement a plan to reduce these barriers by 2020.

Priority Strategy: By 2018, create a regional community food assessment (CFA) for North Central using available regional data as well as input from community members, organizations, policy makers, and other stakeholders and develop and begin implementation of a regional community food access plan based on the assessment.

The goal of the North Central community food assessment (CFA) is to improve our community’s food system via increased access to healthy food among food insecure households. The North Central CFA will compile regional data on needs, food production and distribution outlets and patterns in 12 communities (see Tier 1 & Tier 2communities below), and information on residents’ perceptions of the food environment and their food shopping, preparation and consumption behaviors in six (Tier 1) communities. This information will be used to best direct the efforts of community organizations, non-profits and policymakers that want to improve healthy food access. The CFA will also provide a tool for raising awareness of food system deficits and opportunities, and give evidence of the community’s needs that residents can use to advocate for effective policy and programs.

Tier 1 Communities: Athol, Clinton, Fitchburg, Gardner, Leominster and Winchendon

Tier 2 Communities: Ashburnham, Ayer, Barre, Orange, Templeton and Westminster

                        [Analysis of Data to determine Food Access Tiers]

Community Food Access Survey: Help us to identify the challenges to accessing healthy food in our region. Click here to read more and to take our survey.

Contacts and Meeting Schedule: The CHNA Healthy Eating Group is led by representatives from Growing Places, MOC and Fitchburg State University, with staff support from CHNA9’s Executive Director. If you are interested in joining our efforts, please attend one of our meetings, held the fourth Thursday of each month from 3-4:00p.m. in the Doyle Conference Room at the Trustees’ Doyle Community Park and Center. [Directions to Doyle Room]

For questions or to join our mailing list, contact a member of the leadership team below:

Executive Director, Growing Places,

Debbie Benes, Professor, Fitchburg State University,

Tricia Pistone, V.P. Planning, Montachusett Opportunity Council, Inc. (MOC),