Originally published July 16, 2021 by The Daily Freeman.

By Paul Kirby

A state grant of more than $1.5 million that's been awarded to the city will go toward efforts to increase physical activity and nutrition in schools and the community, according to Mayor Steve Noble.

Noble said Kingston was awarded the Creating Healthy Schools and Communities grant by the state Department of Health, Division of Chronic Disease Prevention.

The grant, which will span five years, will help increase opportunities for physical activity and school nutrition by allowing the city to better engage with partners in child care and education, including Family of Woodstock and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County, the mayor’s office said.

“Daily physical activity and good nutrition early in life supports healthy growth and brain development and can protect against chronic diseases and conditions throughout life,” a statement from the mayor's office said. “Studies have shown that many children from underserved households do not have the access to the opportunities needed to meet recommended national guidelines for physical activity and healthy food.”

The Creating Healthy Schools and Communities grant aims to support and help implement policy and system changes to provide equitable access for all children in the community, Noble's office said.

“This grant will help the city of Kingston further its goal of supporting the social determinants of health — access to everything needed for healthy living,” Noble said in a statement. “We have to make sure that every child is given opportunities to succeed, and that starts with their nutrition and movement.”

Family of Woodstock, which oversees local early childcare centers, will review each centers’ physical activity and nutrition policies and will provide suggestions for enhancing these efforts, the mayor's office said.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County, meanwhile, will support and establish health and wellness committees in elementary schools; and the city’s Health & Wellness Department will implement food-service guidelines in community spaces to increase the accessibility of healthy foods. Locations might include The People’s Place’s new Wellness Empowerment Center, the concession area at Dietz Stadium and vending machines throughout the city.

The Health & Wellness Department also will continue to support and encourage walking and bicycling and will hire a project manager to oversee the facilitation of the grant, Noble's office said.

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