Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council and partners awarded $100,000 Aetna Foundation grant to advance health equity in Cincinnati

July 16, 2020 2:25 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Press Release

For Immediate Release

For more information contact:                                                                                 

Rashida Manuel, rashida@greenumbrella.org, 513.541.3410

Director of Public Engagement, Green Umbrella


Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council and partners awarded $100,000 Aetna Foundation grant to advance health equity in Cincinnati

Cincinnati, OH — The Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council (GCRFPC) and The Health Collaborative have been selected as grantees for the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge, a program funded by the Aetna Foundation, in partnership with the American Public Health Association (APHA) and the National Association of Counties (NACo). This funding will serve in developing a coordinated system to improve food access, affordability and education in the region by convening food access advocates, nutrition educators, healthcare partners and community voices.

“Access to health care and healthy food, as well as other social determinants of health, can significantly impact rates of chronic disease and other health outcomes, with average life spans varying by up to 20-30 years in communities that are just a few miles apart,” said Eileen Howard Boone, President of the Aetna Foundation. “We are proud to partner with APHA and NACo to support the work of Green Umbrella to drive change and address these social determinants of health – work that is now more important than ever, given the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Green Umbrella’s GCRFPC is leading one of the 20 teams chosen to participate in the Challenge. The team will receive $100,000 to take action to change the food access systems in Cincinnati and engage community residents as leaders in their work. 

“Making progress on deeply rooted problems takes collaboration, creativity and a willingness to try a new approach,” says Ryan Mooney-Bullock, Executive Director of Green Umbrella. “We appreciate the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge’s recognition that Cincinnati is ready to take the plunge into this ambitious work.”

In addition to the funding, GCRFPC and their partners will participate in one-on-one technical assistance provided by APHA and a supportive peer-learning network led by Healthy Places by Design over the course of the two years.

The project team that will lead the initiative in Cincinnati, OH includes:

  • Gen-H, an initiative of The Health Collaborative

  • Produce Perks Midwest

  • Freestore Foodbank

  • OSU’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program

“Gen-H is proud to partner with Green Umbrella to develop a coordinated solution to food access, affordability and education,” says Kiana R. Trabue, Executive Director of Population Health Strategies at The Health Collaborative. “Food insecurity has been identified as the top need for Cincinnati patients screened on health-related social needs.  When we learned of the opportunity to partner and apply for this funding it was a great way for us to take the data we’ve been collecting and move it into action.”

The team will take steps to advance health equity in Cincinnati where approximately 3 in 10 adults are food insecure, 46% of the population live in areas with limited access to supermarkets with healthy and nutritious food, and 72% of those with limited supermarket access live in low-income neighborhoods. Proposed strategies for the project include engaging community members to identify gaps that impact food access, creation of a community advisory board and development of a strategic plan to support partner organizations in their work to improve policies and practices.

“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to achieving health equity,” APHA Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin, MD explains. “Successful, lasting change comes from cross-sector partnerships and engaging affected individuals and communities, which is why this challenge is so powerful. Together, communities in the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge will be able to achieve enduring transformations to public health.”

The Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge will award a total of $2 million to teams of organizations that will work together to change the food access and health care systems in their communities and engage community residents as leaders in their work.

An expert review panel selected the team following a rigorous review process which looked at a variety of factors including: level of innovation of their proposed approaches, intended impacts on systems and policy change and alignment of diverse partners around common priorities. Check out the full list of grantee organizations and their community partners.

The Aetna Foundation, which first launched the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge in partnership with APHA and NACo in 2016, is an independent, charitable and philanthropic affiliate of CVS Health.


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The Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council is an initiative of Green Umbrella. It facilitates collaboration to create systemic solutions for healthy, equitable, sustainable food access. Learn more at greenumbrella.org/food-policy.


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