Healthy Eating Active Living


About the Coalition

The Kent County Health Department serves as the back-bone organization for implementation of the Kent County Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA).  In 2017, the latest iteration of the assessment ranked obesity and poor nutrition as one of three priority areas.  Charged with creating an action plan to address this issue area, the Community Health Improvement Program (CHIP) Obesity and Poor Nutrition subgroup has changed its name to more positively reflect the group’s efforts.  The Healthy Eating Active Living Taskforce is a multi-sectoral coalition comprised of major health systems, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC), education, community-based organizations, neighborhood groups, local government, non-profits, health and fitness centers, voluntary health organizations, and faith-based, and hunger-relief organizations.  Based on the 2017 CHNA and the surveys that support the data, the HEAL Taskforce has identified African American and Hispanic/Latinx populations as having the highest needs for intervention, which are residents living within the "Hope Zones."

In Kent County, previous studies such as the Invest Health report have indicated that the urban areas of Grand Rapids and Wyoming, predominantly zip codes 49503, 05, 06, 07, 08, and 09 are facing issues related to basic needs stemming from inequities within these neighborhoods.  Issues such as affordable housing, safety, transportation-related issues, lower graduation rates, low-incomes, single head of household families, decreased healthy food access, and higher crime statistics based on address alone.  These zip-codes represent the "Hope Zones", which closely parallel higher need school districts. 

The HEAL Taskforce has been working collaboratively since the 2014 CHNA/CHIP.  One of the major strategies of the previous action plan was to develop and disseminate a multi-media campaign. This campaign was based upon the MI Daily Plan for a Healthier Tomorrow state campaign.  Wanting to create a localized message that would resonate with our highest risk residents, we chose a community-centered design firm that vetted messaging, terms, and ‘look’ of the campaign with neighbors and community within the "Hope Zones."  This campaign uses local individuals and families sharing their wisdom for ‘getting real, getting healthy’.   The HEAL Taskforce leveraged community promotion dollars through the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) grant to co-market the Get Real campaign.  Members of the HEAL Taskforce have committed to share the resources of the campaign through their organizational messaging/media/promotions and compliments the recently launched American Heart Association (AHA) campaign, ‘Rethink Your Drink’.  The Get Real campaign has simple reminders of healthy eating, active living, healthy sleep, and social time.


Why We Exist

Obesity is common, serious and costly and unfortunately affects some groups more than others.

  • More than one-third (36.5%) of U.S. adults have obesity. Read CDC National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) data brief »
  • Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death. Read guidelines »
  • The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars; the medical costs for people who have obesity were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight. Read summary »

We will use local and state data to help us create an action plan focusing on health disparities. Members of the HEAL Taskforce include (but are not limited to) health care, prevention, non-profit, food and physical activity-related organizations, pantries, schools, faith-based groups, and youth-based organizations.


Our Goal(s)

  • Increase the proportion of Kent County residents who are at a healthy weight (defined by BMI between 18.5 and 24.9)
    • (NWS-9: Reduce the proportion of adults who are obese)
      • 34.1% Kent County adults are considered obese (BMI 30 or greater) compared to 32.5% in Sate of Michigan (Kent County BRFSS, 2017).
      • 14.5% Black middle school youth are obese; 19.8% Latino high school youth are obese (CDC YRBS, 2015).


HEAL Taskforce Resources

Information about the HEAL Taskforce such as, meeting minutes, reports, Healthy Vending Challenge documents, toolkits, and other resources can be found on the HEAL Taskforce page.


Getting Involved

We invite you to join HEAL Taskforce Participating Members in this important work by contacting, Jill Myer at 616-632-7272 or

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