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Healthy Chelsea

Healthy Chelsea works to increase access to healthy and affordable foods, to increase physical activity, and to reduce hunger in Chelsea.

The MGH Center for Community Health Improvement conducted a community health assessment in Chelsea in 2009 and identified, obesity prevention and the promotion of healthy living as leading health priorities for the city. One community health indicator showed at that time that more than half of Chelsea students were overweight or obese. 

In response, Healthy Chelsea convened a team of community leaders to assess the social and environmental factors influencing Chelsea’s high obesity prevalence. In 2010 Chelsea was one of 40 communities across the country awarded ACHIEVE (Action Communities for Health Innovation and Environmental Change) funding from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to change conditions in the community and reduce obesity. This three-year funding award has helped to catalyze the Coalition’s progress.

Current priorities include: adding physical activity into the classroom at the Elementary level; increasing the volume of healthy foods that are selected and are consumed during School Lunch; a close partnership with the City’s Planning and Development Department to support infrastructure changes such as park renovations, park installations, traffic calming measures, and road, sidewalk, and intersection redesigns; and collaborating with the Board of Health on the passage and implementation of Chelsea’s artificial trans fat free regulation.

Healthy Chelsea includes 75 individuals representing local government, state government, community organizations, healthcare providers, and businesses. The coalition explores behaviors around food preferences, purchasing patterns, and food preparation and consumption.  In addition, the group explores the built environment and patterns around physical activity, including means of getting to and from work and school, before and after school time, weekend time, safety and other concerns surrounding outdoor play, and culturally acceptable forms of physical activity. With Chelsea’s diverse community comprising large immigrant and refugee groups, research and planning will be responsive to cultural values and differences.

Healthy Chelsea worked in close partnership with the Chelsea Board of Health providing consultation and staff support to the Board in its efforts to pass an artificial trans fat free regulation for prepared foods served at food service establishments in Chelsea.

In 2011, Healthy Chelsea partnered with Chelsea Schools Superintendent, Mary Bourque, Ph.D., to create and launch the first components of a comprehensive plan to support healthy eating and physical activity throughout Chelsea Public Schools, aided by a $10,000 grant from Olivia's Organics Charitable Foundation. The Coalition partnered with the City’s Department of Planning and Development to support infrastructure changes for pedestrian safety, park renovations and installations, and to secure funding from WalkBoston to support the creation of a community walking map.

In 2012, Healthy Chelsea continued its focus in Chelsea Public Schools, with an added emphasis on School Lunch.  The Coalition partnered with Project Bread, The Walk for Hunger and Chelsea Food Services to test a range of “Smart Cafeteria” approaches aimed to increase the volume of healthy foods selected and consumed by students.  Healthy Chelsea also began working in key neighborhoods, collaborating with corner store owners to expand the availability of healthy, affordable foods in stores close to where people live. 

Outcomes

In 2013:

  • 75 individuals representing residents, local government, state government, school administrators and faculty, community organizations, health care providers, and businesses participate in the Healthy Chelsea Coalition, approximately 45 of whom attend bimonthly Healthy Chelsea meetings on a regular basis. Subcommittee meetings occur as-needed for time limited projects.
  • Healthy Chelsea applied for and received a 2nd year of funding from the Olivia’s Organics Foundation to support physical activity throughout the school day in the Chelsea Public Elementary Schools.
  • Healthy Chelsea entered its 2nd of funding (a total of 4 years have been awarded) by the Mass in Motion program and Partners Healthcare to support additional personnel.
  • Healthy Chelsea was granted 2 consecutive years of funding from Trefler Foundation to support a student–run campaign advocating for healthy foods at Chelsea High School.
  • Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program implemented in 1 elementary school serving 520 students, 3 days per week.
  • Fitness Minutes in 4 Chelsea Elementary Schools serving 2,100 students, increasing their physical activity by nearly 15 minutes a day.
  • The Youth Food Movement internship was launched to establish a formal youth-adult partnership to advocate for improved nutrition quality and increased student participation in School Lunch. Theinternship engages approximately 30 Chelsea High School students.  Participants meet after school once a week, have lunch with the Healthy Chelsea supervisor once a week, and complete additional projects outside of school as needed.
  • Chelsea Corner Store Connection is a partnership with 3 intervention stores and 3 control stores to increase the variety, quantity, & quality of fresh fruit/vegetables, while making these products more prominent in the store.
  • Healthy Chelsea appointed as co-chair of school district's wellness committee. Revised Wellness Policy approved.
  • Board of Health confirmed artificial trans-fat regulation for City of Chelsea.

How to talk to young people about healthy living forum features Melissa Dimond of MGH chelsea

Community and legislative leaders heard directly from young people about the importance of healthy living as part of an effort to address the epidemic of childhood obesity at an educational forum at the Massachusetts State House this morning.

Chelsea Zip Trip: Healthy Communities

When Fox 25 visited Chelsea recently for one of its Zip Trips to Healthy Communities, anchor Gene Lavanchy interviewed Dr. Dean Xerras of MGH Chelsea HealthCare Center and Melissa Dimond of Community Health Improvement at MGH Chelsea. Dr. Xerras and Melissa described the goal of the Healthy Chelsea coalition and its recent accomplishments.

Melissa Dimond

Phone: 617 877-3559
Email: MDIMOND@PARTNERS.ORG