Addressing lack of access to healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity in rural communities is accompanied by unique challenges and opportunities. Strategies that may work well in more urban areas sometimes fall flat when attempted in a rural setting, underscoring the importance of empathy when designing initiatives – there must be authentic community involvement and understanding in order to enable real change.
Many Plan4Health coalitions are working to improve access to healthy foods and increase opportunities for physical activity in rural areas. One example is Connecticut, where the Eastern Highlands Health District Community Health Action Response Team is working with 10 rural towns to develop a toolkit aimed at assisting rural planning and zoning commissions with understanding how planning impacts public health. Check out this video to learn about how the coalition is addressing community challenges.
The Capital Region Healthy Communities initiative in Dane County, Wisconsin, is developing the Active Living Index to educate decision makers and planning and public health professionals about physical activity opportunities and healthy food options. The coalition is pilot testing the tool across the county, including in the rural Village of Cross Plains. This community is very excited about opportunities for active living and a few of the residents filmed videos highlighting the challenge and potential solutions – watch the Benson Family, Kaden, and the LIFE Foundation discuss the initiative.
To learn more about policy, systems, and environment changes in a rural setting, visit the Rural Communities page on the Plan4Health website. Here you will find toolkits, handouts, and other resources for rural communities.