The National League of Cities recently joined First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House to announce that 500 cities, towns and counties are now participating in the Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties (LMCTC) initiative.
The 500 cities, towns and counties honored at the White House come from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. To date, approximately 80 million Americans live in a city, town or county participating in LMCTC. That’s one in four Americans!
More than 100 mayors, councilmembers and city/county staff participated in an exciting day of activities at the White House. In the morning, attendees networked with their peers, discussed their achievements to date, brainstormed solutions to current challenges and planned next steps with assistance from staff from NLC, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and other federal and national nonprofit partners.
Following a networking lunch, the afternoon session consisted of a plenary Dr. Karen DeSalvo, the Acting Assistant Secretary for Health; Deb Eschmeyer, Executive Director of Let’s Move! and Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition; and Jerry Abramson, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and a panel of city leaders. And of course, First Lady Michelle Obama, who led the crowd in celebration of this historic milestone:
“Together, over the past five years, we have built what we call a movement on behalf of our kids’ health. We have changed the culture in this country in the way we live and eat,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “This is about giving our children a fair shot in life. It’s about ensuring that they have everything they need… to help them fulfill their boundless potential.”
LMCTC calls upon local elected officials to adopt long-term, sustainable and holistic approaches to addressing childhood obesity. Local elected officials and their communities can receive bronze, silver and gold medals from NLC for their implementation of the five goal areas of LMCTC.
The goals include providing access to healthy meals through school and summer meal programs, expanding opportunities for physical activity during and outside of school, promoting healthier early care and education programs, and encouraging healthy snack and beverage choices using local government purchasing policies and practices.
Across the nation, 52 communities have achieved gold medals in each of the five goal areas. Local leaders have met all five goal areas by engaging in a variety of systems and policy changes locally. For example:
- In Columbus, Ohio, Mayor Michael B. Coleman has taken great strides to increase opportunities for physical activity and promote healthy eating. New parks and recreation centers, parklets, an Open Streets initiative, new bike paths, outdoor fitness equipment and numerous natural play spaces help city departments make the healthy choice the easy choice for residents.
- In response to being named the most obese metropolitan area in the U.S. in 2011 and 2012, McAllen, Texas, has intensified its strategies to build a healthier city. Spearheaded in part by Mayor James Darling, their work involves numerous community partnerships and has earned the city national accolades. The city of McAllen has transferred vending machines in city facilities to a vending company that offers healthier options, and has placed MyPlate as well as the Let’s Move McAllen! logo in all city-owned facilities. The city has been named a Playful City USA by KaBOOM! five years in a row, and has been a regional leader in promoting bicycle-friendly communities.
- In Missoula County, Mont., Let’s Move! Missoula uses education, policy development, advocacy and environmental change to build and enhance healthy environments for all residents. Their efforts, heavily supported by County Commissioner Jean Curtiss, include the creation of additional trails and parks, Let’s Move! Child Care trainings for child care providers, in-classroom physical activity training for teachers and increased access to healthy food through the development and implementation of a healthy vending policy for all county-owned and operated facilities.
Learn more about Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties and find out if your community is signed up at www.HealthyCommunitiesHealthyFuture.org.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation provides generous support to NLC to provide technical assistance to local elected officials working to create healthier communities and prevent childhood obesity, including those participating in LMCTC.
About the Authors:
Elena Hoffnagle is the Senior Associate for Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties at the National League of Cities. Contact Elena at Hoffnagle@nlc.org.
Izzy Jorgensen was a 2015 summer intern with NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families.