Crescent City WIC Services Inc. (CC WIC) in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana is one of the local agencies participating in the Community Partnerships for Healthy Mothers and Children project, through our cooperative agreement with the CDC.
Many of the residents of Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana don’t live close to grocery stores. When shopping for groceries locally, there are very few healthy, affordable options to choose. This 2,567 square mile area has only 2 grocery stores and 4 year-round farmers’ markets. Figures show that over 41% of the adults living in this parish have high blood cholesterol, 31% are diagnosed with high blood pressure, and 33% of adults ages 20 and over are considered to be obese. A lack of access to fresh, healthy foods are contributing to poor diets and higher levels of obesity and other diet-related diseases. To overcome the access obstacles, this project will need to transform local policies, systems, beliefs and practices within cultural norms so that healthier choices become real, feasible options for people living in Plaquemines Parish.
CC WIC, acting as the backbone organization, launched the Healthy Plaquemines Now (HPN) project in March 2015. The HPN coalition worked together to develop a Community Action Plan in order to build capacity for residents living in this rural community to become health conscious and live full lives. Our coalition has recruited the local churches as members: The preachers regularly attend our meetings, have opened their church doors and even preach sermons related to our cause. The local school district has played an important role in developing strategies for to accomplish our goals. And our local farmers are working to become SNAP and WIC friendly.
While this 15-month funding period is a start, it will only be the beginning of an established system of change. As we discuss at each meeting, to sustain success, the HPN coalition will have to infuse portions of each of our organization’s programming into the activities of this project in order to continue progress beyond the funding period. If we want to have a larger, ongoing impact on this community, we will have to collaborate on activities, share training opportunities, co-locate services when possible, host campaigns during specific health observance months, and seek additional funding as committee