The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, Cochise County office, has received a $2 million grant from the Legacy Foundation of Southeast Arizona for the "Building Healthy Communities" project.
The project – a partnership involving Cochise County Health and Social Services, the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona and the Cochise County Superintendent of Schools – will focus on promoting healthy eating and physical activity. Efforts include a hydration campaign to reduce the consumption of sugary drinks and a systematic plan for growing a healthy food system in Cochise County.
"We are building community relationships to work together to make our county a healthy place to live," said Evelyn Whitmer, a UA Cooperative Extension agent based in Cochise County. "Working with our community partners, we are focusing on fresh foods in rural counties, leadership skills and family engagement."
The Legacy Foundation of Southeast Arizona is a public charity that supports efforts promoting population health and community wellness in Cochise and eastern Santa Cruz counties. Each year, the foundation identifies a strategic focus and encourages community organizations providing services in that focus area to apply for funding – called strategic grants – which are used over three years.
"After much deliberation, the Legacy Foundation board of directors selected the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension as the organization to receive a $2 million strategic grant," said Legacy Foundation CEO Margaret Hepburn. "The Legacy Foundation is very excited to be working alongside the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension and anticipates great progress towards the Legacy Foundation vision: southeast Arizona as a health and wellness model for the nation."
Whitmer says receiving and implementing the strategic grant will help fulfill the mission of the UA Cooperative Extension.
"We are improving the lives of our citizens by creating an environment that contributes to a healthy lifestyle with community partnerships and collaborative work. By creating a healthy environment, we create a community that contributes to promoting economic growth," Whitmer said.
"Cooperative Extension is a crucial component of the UA's mission as a land-grant university, and it has provided expertise, service and education to the people of Arizona for more than a century," said UA President Robert C. Robbins. "We are very honored and grateful to be selected by the Legacy Foundation for this grant. Thanks to their incredible support, along with strong community partnerships, Cooperative Extension will be able to expand upon the important work already happening in Cochise County and better serve the many communities of our great state."