Imagine you were given an opportunity to address food, health and well-being issues – in a holistic way, with collaborative, community-based solutions – focusing on local neighborhoods where the needs are great among the most vulnerable families and children. This was the opportunity afforded a group of us in Seattle and surrounding King County beginning in 2007, when we received a grant from the W.K.Kellogg Foundation to create the King County Food and Fitness Initiative (KCFFI).
KCFFI’s mission was to foster collaborative leadership among diverse community partners to co-create long-term, innovative strategies to realize our vision of equitable access to resources and choices that promote health. Our vision was to create vibrant communities that support access to locally grown, healthy, affordable food and safe and inviting places for physical activity and play—for everyone.
We focused on improving the food and physical activity environments in two communities – Delridge and White Center – through local action and promotion of policy and systems change at municipal/county and regional/state levels in three strategic areas: 1) school food and fitness, 2) healthy food access in convenience and produce stores; 3) promoting walking and biking through changes to school and community settings. To achieve our goals, we actively engaged with communities and youth in planning, decision making, and fun activities.
Five years later the project has come to a close, but the relationships we forged live on, and much of our good work carries forward. And yet more remains to be done, here in our city and county and in communities like ours across the country. It’s because of these ongoing needs that when the project ended we wanted to tell our story. We published the KCFFI Storybook to capture the successes and lessons learned through our efforts. Our hope with the storybook is to celebrate all we accomplished and to inspire those who continue community-building efforts of all kinds, especially the young people who were an integral part of our project and in whose capable hands the future lies.
Assistant Director, Metropolitan Center for Applied Research & Extension