States Advance Sustainable Health Strategies During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Impact Brief – Feb. 2022

January 2022 marked the completion of the first year of the Building Resilient Inclusive Communities (BRIC) program, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). NACDD is supporting 20 states, which in turn, have engaged 63 communities to impact community resiliency in three areas: food and nutrition security, safe physical activity access, and social connectedness.

Here are just a few highlights of policy, systems, and environmental changes achieved thus far by BRIC states and partner communities in BRIC-funded states:

Food and Nutrition Security

Washington (King County): Public Health-Seattle King County, with the Washington Food Coalition, collaborated with two King County food pantries (West Seattle and Ballard) to adopt a nutrition standards policy to prioritize the procurement and distribution of healthy and culturally relevant foods, drawing from the Healthy Eating Research’s Nutrition Guidelines for the Charitable Food System.

Illinois (Southern Seven Region, with a focus on Alexander and Pulaski Counties): Illinois Public Health Institute, with Tri-State Food Bank and University of Illinois Extension SNAP-Education, supported the opening of a new food pantry in Cairo, along with cold storage and other supports, thereby increasing the number of people who receive healthy food through feeding sites. This is the community’s first “consumer choice” food pantry where community residents are able to “shop” for their items with dignity. See news clips related to the pantry opening from WSIL TV-3 and KFVS12.

Safe Physical Activity Access

Connecticut (Hartford): The Capital Region Council of Governments, in partnership with Frog Hollow Neighborhood Revitalization Zone Committee, installed diverters in two priority locations to reduce and slow traffic on neighborhood streets. This change provides a safer and more inviting pedestrian and cyclist environment. An advisory group, including city officials and neighborhood residents, was formed to help inform the process.

North Carolina (Northampton County): North Carolina State University partners conducted a walkability audit in the town of Woodland, which later resulted in environmental changes to enhance pedestrian safety. Fourteen people participated in the walk audit, including the town mayor, county Extension director, health educator from the county health department, and several residents of varying ages and abilities. The results of the audit informed the installation of lighted pedestrian signs, benches, and a speed monitoring device to enhance safe walkability and physical activity.

Social Connectedness
BRIC states and partner communities in BRIC-funded states continue to build capacity in this area through partnership development, coalition building, and community engagement strategies.

Utah (San Juan County): San Juan County Public Health developed partnerships with Navajo Strong, Utah Rotary Club, and Red Mesa Senior Center to assess the needs of the Navajo elders related to social isolation and loneliness. As a result, picnic tables and other environmental changes were installed at the senior center to support opportunities for greater social connection such as regular congregate meals and safe social gathering opportunities.   

As BRIC states and partner communities in BRIC-funded states continue to work towards policy, systems, and environmental change strategies in Year 2, they continue to grow knowledge, leadership, and capacity around health equity, sustainability, resiliency, and the role of state public health departments in emergency response. More information, stories, and lessons learned through the program will be shared in a BRIC Resiliency Guide coming in fall 2022.

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