Good health is more than just being free of illness—it is a state of physical, mental and social wellness. As much as good health depends of personal choice and responsibility, many health behaviors are shaped by conditions over which individuals have little to no control.
ALICE households struggling to make ends meet are often forced to make difficult choices based largely on their bank account balance, such as forgoing preventative healthcare or healthy food choices. These short-term “savings” can threaten not only their health, safety and future, but that of our communities as well.
Income, education, occupation and neighborhood socioeconomic conditions influence health in many ways. Current statistics paint a bleak picture of family wellness, across communities and generations, profoundly affecting children’s academic achievement, families’ economic potential and overall quality of life.
- ALICE households often lack access to healthy, affordable food or time to prepare it, and they have fewer opportunities for physical activity because of long hours at work and poor access to recreational spaces and facilities.
- Between 58 and 64% of school-age children in Western Connecticut failed to meet state physical fitness tests.
- In Connecticut, 32% of adults and 35% of children do not eat fruits or vegetables daily. Only 26% of children ages 6-17 participate in vigorous physical activity every day.
- More than half of Connecticut adults are reportedly overweight or obese, and almost 30% of children and youth aged 10-17. That figure rises to 43% among African-American children, and 48% among Hispanic children.
- The bulk of the $147-$210 billion in annual medical costs of adult obesity in the US goes towards treating preventable obesity-related diseases, such as diabetes. Childhood obesity alone is responsible for $14.1 billion in direct costs.
Our Initiatives and Collaboratives
In addition, we support Students Can Run and Move, SCRAM, a physical activity and nutrition after-school program at Title 1 Danbury elementary schools. With an effective parent educational component to support what the students are learning, this program has led to improvements in fitness testing and nutrition knowledge.
To increase access to fresh and local foods, United Way also supports the Danbury Farmers Market Community Collaborative’s SNAP Initiative. Through the program, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) allows patrons to use their food stamps at the Danbury City Farmers Market, providing dollar-for-dollar matches to double buyers’ ability to purchase fresh produce.
Coordinated by Stamford Hospital, we are a partner in the Stamford Childhood Obesity Task Force, participating in a forum for more than 30 organizational partners to communicate their activities, best practices and successes in addressing childhood obesity in the city.
The Healthy Bodies program includes “I’m Moving, I’m Learning” at Childcare Learning Centers in Stamford, which provides structured and unstructured exercise and activity time for more than 1,000 toddlers and preschoolers. With United Way support, the program has expanded to include events and workshops for parents, and staff, cooking classes, dance classes and nutritionally-balanced meals and snacks for the children.
If you need immediate assistance accessing emergency food or nutrition programs, please call 2-1-1 or visit 211ct.org for the United Way’s free and confidential database of services and programs for those in need.