Our Health CAN is focused on improving the health of Coachella Valley children and families. We use the population-level indicator of childhood obesity, since our children’s success, and the opportunities they enjoy later in life, are deeply shaped by their health. Childhood obesity is associated with a number of poor health outcomes experienced by far too many Coachella Valley children. We know that if we improve outcomes related to childhood obesity, we will make substantial progress toward our overarching goal of creating a healthier Coachella Valley for all families and children.
Approximately 30 percent of Coachella Valley children are considered obese, which parallels statewide rates. However, Hispanic children have significantly higher rates of childhood obesity (32 percent) than White children (18 percent). Our CAN is dedicated to eliminating this difference.
We began our work in the CAN by building pilot interventions to improve nutrition education and support families to make healthier decisions for our children. However, we quickly realized that nutrition education goes only so far when families cannot afford enough food to eat, let alone the healthy, fresh food that is often difficult to access across the Coachella Valley, including the more rural areas where many low-income populations live.
For this reason, our CAN is currently focused on developing a valley-wide vision for healthy children, and increasing access to basic health support services among low-income families. We are also working to conduct a feasibility study that analyzes opportunities to improve school nutrition across the Coachella Valley and to support curriculum to instill healthy behaviors in our region’s children. We are currently focused on schools as a key site of interventions, since schools are a critical source of food supply for low-income Coachella Valley students and their families.