The City of Everett is a densely populated city that encompasses about three and a half square miles and is inhabited by roughly 40,000 residents. The demographics of the city have shifted dramatically over time and in the past 20 years the city has become home to more ethnically, racially, and linguistically diverse populations. A health study conducted by the Cambridge Health Alliance and Institute for Community Health in 2008 concluded that a significant number of Everett children and adults were either obese, overweight, or at risk of becoming overweight. Follow up studies have also concluded that a high percentage of those who are at risk are primarily blacks and Latinos. Energize Everett was started in 2009 to address these issues to tackle rising diabetes and obesity rates in the City of Everett creating an environment where healthy choices are not only an option but a standard practice. Energize Everett became a Mass in Motion community in 2012.
Restaurants are a vital part of many communities’ economic bases and draw visitors from around the Metro Boston region. Local restaurants rather than chain establishments dominate the market in these municipalities. Partnering with local restaurants to offer healthier options in a healthy dining program will improve nutrition for residents and visitors. By September 29, 2014, Everett will increase the number of full service restaurants that offer and promote healthier dining options (including fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lower sodium/no salt added meals, smaller portions) through an established healthy dining program. This strategy will improve residents’ access to healthy, affordable fresh fruits and vegetables, increasing the number of people who consume the recommended amount of produce each day.
Energize Everett is already working closely with the Square Deli, a popular Everett take-out place committed to offering healthy options.
Corner stores and other small neighborhood markets are important shopping destinations for many residents particularly for residents unable to travel to grocery stores and farmers markets. The goal of this initiative is to add healthier options to these smaller markets. The goal of this initiative by September 29, 2014, is to increase the number of convenience stores within Everett that will offer and promote healthier food and beverages (including fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain products, lower sodium options, and low fat dairy) through an established healthy neighborhood market program. This strategy will improve residents’ access to healthy, affordable fresh fruits and vegetables, increasing the number of people who consume the recommended amount of produce each day.
Energize Everett has their first Healthy Market, Supermarcado Latino on Broadway, and in June, McKinnons Market signed up.
Establishing community design standards or “complete streets” can make streets safe for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists and users of public transit. The goal of this initiative, by September 29, 2014, is to develop “Complete Streets” guidelines. This strategy will improve the health of all with a particular benefit to carless residents who are disproportionately low income.
A draft Complete Streets resolution has been sent to the Everett Planning Department for comment.
Safe routes to School programs promote healthy alternative ways for children to get to and from school. Implementation of a safe routes to school program provides more opportunities for children to walk and cycle more to improve their physical health. By September 29, 2014, Everett will increase the number of schools in Everett with an active safe routes to school program. All of Everett’s K-8 schools are enrolled in the state Safe Routes to School Program.
Farmers markets that are located in convenient areas and that feature culturally appropriate options can promote better nutrition for lower income and urban residents in these communities. The goal of this initiative is to reduce barriers to access and increase utilization of farmer’s markets for low income residents. By September 29, 2014, Everett will increase the number of purchases by participants of SNAP and Massachusetts Farmers Market Coupons at farmer’s markets. This strategy will improve residents’ access to healthy, affordable fresh fruits and vegetables, increasing the number of people who consume the recommended amount of produce each day. (Image credit)
The goal of this initiative is to improve nutritional quality of foods and beverages served or available in schools consistent with the Massachusetts School Nutrition Standards based on the Institute of Medicine’s Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools. By September 29, 2016, Everett will increase the number of school districts that have implemented nutritional guidelines that exceed the basic MDPH guidelines. This strategy will improve nutrition for the children enrolled in the Everett schools.
The goal of this initiative is to identify potential walking routes that would connect neighborhoods with the lower Mystic River and its tributaries to create new opportunities for the community to access and enjoy the Mystic River. Everett will work to establish walking routes to the Mystic River and biking routes to the coast. There is ongoing work with MAPC and Bike to the Seas on identifying and promoting Walk to the River and Bike to Sea routes.
Energize Everett is in the process of negotiating a Joint Use agreement with municipal leaders and the Everett Public Schools Superintendent that will make the Parlin Elementary School a pilot showing community recreational facilities can expand to include neighborhood schools.
Many residents currently access municipal buildings for services, recreation, and other uses. Changes to municipal vending procurement policies in these municipalities, which struggle with high rates of obesity and hypertension, will reduce exposure for all residents to unhealthy foods. By September 30, 2014, Everett will increase the number of vending machines in government buildings that will be stocked with 100% healthy beverage options (water, sparkling water, 100% fruit juice in small portions) and healthy, lower sodium food options. This strategy will improve residents’ access to healthy, affordable fresh fruits and vegetables, increasing the number of people who consume the recommended amount of produce each day.
A draft Healthy Vending Policy has been written and presented to the Purchasing Agent and the Everett Board of Health. Approval is pending.
Photovoice is a participatory action research method by which people can identify, represent, and enhance their community through a specific photographic technique. Photovoice, as recognized evaluation technique, provides a process to empower youth in Cambridge to voice their stories around community safety to people that make decisions over their daily lives.
In summer 2012, twelve Everett youth ages 15-21 took part in the Community Safety Photovoice project facilitated by the Everett Police Department, the Everett Community Health Partnership Substance Abuse Coalition, and Energize Everett. Additionally, the Everett Photovoice project submitted their project to the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America’s (CADCA) Ideas Fair in Washington DC and won the CADCA Pick “Innovative” Award.
Everett’s community garden initiative came out of a previous grant. Energize Everett is presently facilitating the group, but the goal is to have community residents manage and grow the gardens. ECG also has the support of several councilmen, and the high school Green Club- the site at Florence Street will add 3 raised beds this season.