Healthy Hampshire is focused on improving people's health in Hampshire County and the Hilltowns by collaborating with municipal leaders, elected officials, public health departments, planners, businesses, community organizations, and residents. It is part of the Mass in Motion statewide initiative through the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. It is administered by the City of Northampton in partnership with the Collaborative for Educational Services.
The mission of Healthy Hampshire is to reduce rates of chronic disease in its partner communities by effecting changes to policies and systems that encourage physical activity, healthy food access, improved patient care, and linkages between healthcare systems and community-level prevention activities.
Specifically, our goals are to:
- Increase availability and awareness of healthy food in retailers, institutions, and food pantries
- Collaborate with municipalities to recommend changes to the built environment that will encourage more physical activity in everyday life
- Focus on health inequities within and between communities, and work in partnership with those most affected to build community capacity for advocacy and public policy change
- Decrease risk factors for diabetes, heart disease and stroke through improved clinical practices and coordinated patient care
- Develop linkages between healthcare systems and community-level prevention activities that increase and reinforce opportunities for residents to make healthy choices
We’re working toward these goals with activities that:
- Help make fresh, healthy food more accessible and affordable for everyone in our communities.
- Support community design that increases opportunities for everyday and recreational physical activity.
- We’re partnering with health care professionals to help prevent long-term problems like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Why Healthy Hampshire?
Improving access to healthy food, physical activity, and preventative care is critically important for reducing rates of chronic disease. Research shows that having access to healthy food retail in your neighborhood is associated with better diet and reduced risk of obesity and other diet-related diseases. Neighborhood design that encourages walking, biking, and public transit usage is associated with reduced rates of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Early detection of risk through well-coordinated patient care teams is key in preventing chronic disease in the clinical setting.
Healthy Hampshire works to address all of these aspects of chronic disease prevention while strengthening the linkages between them. When healthy food is available to residents at the end of their block and that block has sidewalks and bike lanes, those residents may be more likely to walk, bike, and eat healthfully. When community health workers identify patients who are at risk for diabetes and those patients are able to walk out their doors and access the physical recreation and healthy food that they are learning about in their Diabetes Prevention Program, the whole community is coming together to mitigate diabetes risk factors for those patients. These are the long-term, coordinated, and sustainable changes that Healthy Hampshire is working toward.