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Healthy Communities Action Teams
Because of the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth’s great success at reducing youth tobacco use and helping youth in Virginia learn to make positive, healthy lifestyle choices, the Virginia General Assembly voted unanimously in 2009 to give VFHY responsibility for preventing and reducing childhood obesity in the Commonwealth.
VFHY provides funding to Healthy Communities Action Teams (HCATs) throughout Virginia to improve access to healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity to prevent and reduce childhood obesity in the Commonwealth of Virginia. VFHY funding provides infrastructure support to build and sustain state and local capacity to implement promising practices and activities emphasizing policy, systems, and environmental change.
VFHY Healthy Communities Action Teams consist of a minimum of five representatives from a locality. These partners may include community organizations, schools, policy makers, local growers, physicians, businesses, health departments, faith-based organizations, cooperative extension agencies, afterschool programs and others active in the call for healthier, sustainable lifestyles that prevent and reduce childhood obesity.
HCATs are charged with addressing two areas related to impact and sustainability. First, HCATs work to build community infrastructure to ensure they will have the foundation to select and implement the required changes in their localities. These activities can include board and strategic plan development as well as planning for becoming a nonprofit organization.
Secondly, HCATs also identify opportunities in their communities to address obesity prevention through policy, systems and environmental changes. The community coalitions develop and address nutrition and/or physical activity initiatives. HCATs identify opportunities for policy, systems and environmental changes that promote increased access to healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity at the local level.