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Active Living by Design Helps Get Communities Moving

Posted by Max Finberg, Director, Faith Based and Community Initiatives in Food and Nutrition Initiatives
Nov 21, 2011
The mobile market delivering fresh produce residents of Spartanburg County, South Carolina.
The mobile market delivering fresh produce residents of Spartanburg County, South Carolina.

Three community supporters of Let’s Move are moving towards healthier lives. Inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Faith and Communities initiative, these communities are leading the way in creative solutions to health issues through mobile grocery markets, convenient bicycle accommodations, and safe routes to school. These innovative ideas are brought to life through the funding and partnership of organizing group Active Living by Design.

In South Carolina, the mobile market of Spartanburg County is a grocery store on wheels, but with one exception: the food is free! The mobile market – called “The Food Oasis on Wheels” -- provides food relief by bringing fresh produce to an area home to food deserts and high obesity rates. The mobile market was brought to the community by Active Living by Design, a non-profit organization that worked with local leaders to form a leadership council and champion a healthier Spartanburg County. They brought in the mobile market to sell fresh fruits and vegetables and formed a partnership with a bicycle lending program to encourage physical activity.

Somerville, Massachusetts, is partnering with Active Living by Design to implement Shape Up Somerville, a program designed to get Somerville moving. Mayor Joseph Curtatone sent a colleague to Bogotá, Colombia to experience the open street structure of the city first-hand. He uncovered an innovative idea that he thought might work for Somerville: ciclovias, which are permanent bike paths similar to paved roads. The benefits of ciclovias are simple: fewer cars, less pollution, and more moving feet! As part of the city’s continued effort to reduce childhood obesity, Somerville closes streets to cars and hosts events encouraging physical activity. It also supports initiatives like “going green on Route 16,” through which Somerville translates advertisements into Spanish, Creole, and Portuguese to help make residents aware of local wellness celebrations. Somerville takes an active interest in the health of residents and is a positive example of the impact made possible by a city’s leadership.

Finally, in New Orleans, Kids Walk Coalition is encouraging children to walk to school as part of the Active Living by Design initiative, Healthy Kids Healthy Communities. This community partnership is making walking easier, safer, and more convenient. Realizing the strong influence environment has on our daily activities, Project Coordinator Matt Rufo began his mission to change the city infrastructure. Because many homes are conveniently located near schools, Rufo, volunteers, and AmeriCorps members researched the conditions that prevent children from walking these short distances to school. The team determined that sidewalk quality, crosswalk quality, quality of signage, and curb ramp conditions needed improvement. After generating suggestions and presenting their “Stepping to School” plan to the New Orleans City Council, the Council unanimously approved a resolution calling for a “Complete Streets” ordinance.

Interested in how you can bring accessible, affordable food to your neighborhood? Or how to help kids get moving through safer walking routes and innovative transportation? Contact us at Let’s Move Faith and Communities by emailing