Santa Barbara County has officially adopted the Healthy Eating Active Living (H.E.A.L.) resolution to promote healthy living for residents, becoming the second county in California to do so.
The resolution will ensure residents have access to locally grown produce and provide healthier food options in schools, as well as education about living healthy lifestyles.
First District County Supervisor Salud Carbajal is working with the County to maintain the new resolution and said he hopes the program will reach everyone who is interested in learning about a healthy lifestyle, no matter their current level of health.
“I think we are targeting everyone in general,” Carbajal said. “There are disparities in health issues in our community with various groups and income levels, but I think that our goal is to approach the entire community with an understanding that certain communities need a little extra outreach and consideration.”
Carbajal said the resolution will help people understand ways to live healthy lives and hopes the program will develop into a community effort.
“Once you make it a community-wide effort, it becomes part of our values in our community to exercise, to be conscious of having a healthier diet,” Carbajal said. “And to understand there are some basic things we can do to create wellness and health to prevent certain devastating, long-term medical conditions that only diminish our quality of life or result in huge costs of medical debts.”
Carbajal said implementing the principles of the resolution will be an effortful process.
“We will come up with a strategic plan and identify some specific goals whether it be environmental or healthy foods or even employee wellness,” Carbajal said.
Trina Long, coordinator of the Nutritional Service Program with the Public Health Department and chair of Live Well Santa Barbra County Coalition, said although H.E.A.L. has collaborated with many entities, the Coalition is at the forefront of the program.
“There are lots of different partners that have been and are continuing to work on different initiatives in our county that focus on healthy living and active eating,” Long said. “The Live Well Coalition is the backbone of that partnership. There are different organizations, agencies and government officials with an interest in nutrition, physical activity, environmental health and public healthy eating and active living.”
According to Long, the Coalition takes community members’ opinions into consideration when making healthy lifestyle plans.
“What we do is look at it as addressing it in a collective impact type of way,” Long said. “We have different goals and objectives but when we start talking down to the nitty-gritty, we realize that even though our county program is focused on healthy eating and active living, when we start talking with our partners and with community members, we hear about barriers that need to be addressed in order for us to be successful in getting people to eat healthier and get active.”
Long said the Coalition will use community-based education and policy formation to promote H.E.A.L.’s message.
“A group of our coalition partners that are interested in H.E.A.L. are working on getting the word out to private businesses and individuals that can make changes that would support a healthier environment and living for themselves,” Long said.
Long said involvement from other local groups and businesses will be important to H.E.A.L.’s success.
“We are planning different ways to get the word out about H.E.A.L., possibly a speakers bureau to cities who do not have a H.E.A.L. resolution yet,” Long said. “Also, reaching out to community clubs and organizations such as the Rotary Club to provide information about H.E.A.L. and offer ways that they could bring this back to their employer.”
Fifth District County Supervisor Steve Lavagnino, who collaborated with Carbajal to pass the resolution, said he believes it is something everyone in the County should support.
“Who is going to oppose trying to get kids to eat healthy and be active? It’s one of those things everybody talks about but we need to have everyone tied in,” Lavagnino said.
According to Lavagnino, the resolution aims to prompt individual County residents to make changes.
“It must become a lifestyle change and not just a resolution that we’re passing,” Lavagnino said. “We need to get people’s awareness up so they can make healthier decisions in their life.”
Third-year English major Olivia Kapheim said she will appreciate knowing there is a County-level effort to support healthy lifestyles among residents.
“I keep up on my sleep and eat healthy meals and not just snacking throughout the day,” Kapheim said. “I think a healthy lifestyle is doable on your own, but it would be nice to have community support.”
A version of this story appeared on p. 8 of the Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016 edition of the Daily Nexus.