Cullman, Ala.— Every month, 800 limited-resource families in Cullman County increase access to healthier food choices through the efforts of ALProHealth and its partners. AlProHealth Cullman County is a group of individuals working together to address obesity in the county. They use the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Programs to Reduce Obesity in High Obesity Areas research-proven strategies.
The ALProHealth Cullman Community Coalition partnered with local food banks to help address food access for the food insecure population. The Coalition worked with two local food banks, The Crossing which serves approximately 250 families per month and Cullman Caring for Kids, which serves approximately 550 households per month, and served more than 12,000 people in 2015.
The Coalition identified local food banks that did not have the capacity to accept perishable healthy foods. It provided both food banks with necessary equipment (i.e., refrigeration, freezer, a dehydrator and a vacuum sealer) allowing the food banks to process and store donated foods, thus increasing availability of perishable healthy foods. In addition, both food banks partner with the Society of St. Andrew to collect fresh produce from local farmers, increasing the availability of often unaffordable healthy foods for limited-resource families.
In addition to increasing access and availability to healthier food choices, Cullman County is working to increase physical activity. Cullman County Extension Coordinator Tony Glover organized a walking experience for approximately 20 citizens. The group explored a series of strategically mapped locations throughout Cullman.
“The goal of the walking tour was to provide intellectual insight and practical hands-on experience into the wide range of possibilities effecting pedestrians, bicycle and public transportation in the City of Cullman,” Glover said. This was all done under the guidance of the Complete Streets Project and Smart Growth America.
Cullman City Councilman Johnny Cook, explained the role of city government since 2008 in promoting pedestrian friendly streetscapes and forward thinking street designs.
John Robert Smith, senior policy adviser for Smart Growth America in Washington, D.C., gave a presentation on how cities the size of Cullman must match their economic and cultural future with the authentic nature of the people and existing physical structures within the community. He also talked about how Baby Boomers and Millennials are re-orienting the fundamental planning of communities. He said the ‘expand and grow outward’ methodologies of the past are still important, but no longer sufficient to successfully grow a city and retain existing citizens.
Emiko Atherton with the National Complete Streets Coalition, talked about how smaller cities across the United States are creating attractive inner city designs and streetscapes to attract and retain Baby Boomers and Millennials, as well as providing maximum health benefits for all citizens.
The hope is that this public forum will motivate city leaders and citizens to start a conversation on how best to plan for the City of Cullman’s next 50 to 100 years. It is important for city planners to consider the effects on health, wellness and fitness when planning all aspects of community development, including streets, walkways, bike paths and public transportation.
Check out this video for a closer look into the Cullman County effort.