kids with trophy

Nacogdoches Mayor Maintains Healthy Momentum


Two years ago, the photo of trail in NacogdochesTexas Department of Agriculture’s Healthy Community Network spotlighted Nacogdoches Mayor Roger Van Horn and his support for local health initiatives including the Healthy Nacogdoches Coalition. Since that time, the Mayor retired from his longtime dental practice but he and the Coalition have continued leading the community toward a healthier future.

"I've invested my life's work in ensuring people are healthy," Mayor Van Horn said. "As mayor I am proud to continue to work toward a healthy community in Nacogdoches and create a city where people find heath accessible and attainable."

Before this school year started, the Healthy Nacogdoches Coalition Kids’ Expo got area children off to a healthy start with activities, games and education. Children could get school supplies, immunizations and sports physicals as well as lessons in healthy eating and disease prevention. Approximately 25 exhibitors and sponsors participated in this example of commitment to the children of Nacogdoches.

Another effort that brings together a diverse set of partners from around the city is the popular trail system that winds throughout Nacogdoches.  While the City has not expanded the trail system in recent years it has continually devoted resources to maintaining the trail and increasing usage through making all areas on the trail better defined and promoting it as a popular amenity.

Recently community members organized a walk and ride that was open to the public and designed to bring awareness to the improvements along one of the trails. The City of Nacogdoches also has plans to submit a grant application for Texas Parks and Wildlife funds that would be used to ensure the trails continue to be improved and are compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act regulations.

Efforts in Nacogdoches exemplify the importance of the Healthy Community Network’s tenets of education, cooperation and collaboration in pursuing local wellness for an entire community.
Updated December 9, 2015. Photo by Andrew Brosig courtesy of The Daily Sentinel.

Mayors' Proclamations Support Summer Meals in Navasota and Liberty


At the start of summer, Liberty city council meetingHealthy Community Network members Navasota Mayor Bert Miller and Liberty Mayor Carl Pickett showed their support of the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) by issuing Healthy Summer Meals proclamations at their city council meetings. These proclamations honored Liberty Independent School District (ISD) and Navasota ISD, two valued Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) partners that served SFSP meals this summer. Thanks to these districts and the Mayors, more children in Navasota and Liberty started this school year healthier and better prepared to learn. Photo: Navasota ISD Director of Child Nutrition Wyvetta Franklin, center, and Navasota ISD's Ronnie Gonzalez, right, were on hand as Mayor Bert Miller proclaimed Healthy Summer Meals month at a Navasota City Council meeting.

“Many students would not have this access to a healthy meal if it wasn't for this program, especially when they depend on meals served during the school semester,” Mayor Miller said. “It also helps create a healthy habit for our kids.”

Teaching young Texans about healthy lifestyles is a vital part of SFSP, the Healthy Community Network and other TDA initiatives such as Farm Fresh Fridays. Part of launching Farm Fresh Fridays this year included the introduction of Farm to Summer Site which provides resources SFSP partners can use to develop stronger connections to local agriculture so children can learn about the origins of their food. Ultimately these efforts ensure children can pursue healthier futures by embracing the principles of the 3E’s of Healthy Living — Education, Exercise and Eating Right.

Liberty mayor presenting summer meals proclamation“The health of our children is so important to our quality of life and it’s not just important for the kids that benefit from the summer meals program, but for the community as a whole,” Mayor Pickett said. He added that the city has a strong relationship with the school district and the Liberty Municipal Library has developed a summer reading program to help the kids continue learning even during summer vacation.Photo: The nutrition staff from Liberty ISD observed as Mayor Carl Pickett read the Summer Meals proclamation at the Liberty City Council meeting.

Despite being adversely affected by heavy rainfall during the month, Liberty ISD served almost 3,500 breakfasts and lunches in June. Navasota ISD served almost 6,500 SFSP meals in June. This impressive effort represents an exemplary collaboration between, TDA, schools and municipalities.

“All government entities ought to work together,” Mayor Pickett said “We all have our mission and an obligation to the people we directly serve.”

The Texas Department of Agriculture supported SFSP efforts with an extensive outreach campaign across the state that included bus ads, public service announcements, press releases, social media advertising and much more. Next year, all Healthy Community Network members are invited to follow the lead of Navasota and Liberty and use TDA resources available at SquareMeals.org.

Mayor Price Leads Fort Worth on a Fast Track to Fitness

In Fort Worth, Mayor Mayor Betsy Price on Bike RideBetsy Price walks the walk and rides the bike. Her innovative Walking Town Halls and Rolling Town Halls work to advance health and fitness awareness in her community by giving citizens access to their city’s leader, all while walking or biking through Fort Worth neighborhoods. These healthy discussions are regularly scheduled between March and October, and the meetings are an important part of Mayor Price’s dedication to good health and community engagement.
“I’ve always said, ‘it’s not about being thin, it’s about being fit,’” Mayor Price said. “Fit communities are more engaged. Fort Worth Mayor Betsy PriceOne of the things I wanted as mayor was to be engaged with the citizens. You have to be out talking to people to govern in a large city.”

As a city official and former business owner, Mayor Price understands that today’s business leaders put a premium on promoting health and wellness in their communities. In addition to the town halls, Fort Worth boasts fitness initiatives like BikeFW, WalkFW and FitWorth. Mayor Price is proud of each of these efforts, and she’s particularly excited about vaulting Fort Worth into the global healthy living conversation by participating in the Blue Zones Project.

“Fort Worth is the first city in Texas and the largest city in the United States to work toward becoming a Blue Zones Project certified city,” Mayor Price said.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price at Rideshare launchCommunities around the world are seeking Blue Zones Project recognition by implementing comprehensive and sustainable changes to make it easier for citizens to choose healthy living options. In Fort Worth, the project is being funded through the North Texas Healthy Communities Foundation by private donations. The five-year budget of $48 million is being used to hire a local team to deliver services and support to organizations and individuals throughout the community.  There is no public funding for the program.

This kind of local involvement is at the heart of Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller’s campaign to get Texans on the path to healthier lifestyles. He frequently reminds his fellow state leaders about the importance of involving teachers, parents, business and community leaders, and all Texans in making the future of Texas a healthy one.

In Fort Worth, businesses, nonprofits, faith-based groups and schools are all integral participants in the city’s healthy initiatives. For other communities seeking to initiate fitness efforts like the Walking Town Halls and Rolling Town Halls, Mayor Price recommends finding a source of motivation and using it to generate enthusiasm.

“You just need to think about engaging the community and determining what the community has to offer that might draw people out,” Mayor Price said. “Then, you find a passion for it and lead by example. I’m out all the time and what I hear is, ‘if you can do this at 65, then we can do this.’”
Photos courtesy of Fort Worth Mayor's Office. Middle photo by Glen E. Ellman. 

Mayor's Bike Ride Keeps North Richland Hills on the Move


Posted November 13, 2014

North Richland Hills is Trevino at Round town with Oscara town on the move, and Healthy Community Network member Mayor Oscar Trevino is helping keep it that way. Mayor Trevino credits the city’s 30 miles of hike and bike trails as one of the many ways the town is making it easier for residents to enjoy exercising outdoors. The mayor also leads by example with his regularly scheduled bike ride, ’Round the Town with Oscar, which he does on the first Tuesday evening of every month from April through October. [Photo: North Richland Hills Mayor Oscar Trevino and Managing Director of Community Services at a recent 'Round the Town with Oscar. Photo by Adrien Pekurney.]

Mayor Trevino bike ride“In creating ’Round the Town with Oscar, we wanted to focus on three important objectives: Physical activity, social engagement and alternative transportation,” Mayor Trevino said. [Photo: Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price joined Mayor Trevino for a recent ‘Round the Town with Oscar’ ride. She has been hosting her own city’s “Rolling Town Hall Meetings” for three years. Photo by Adrien Pekurney]

Initiatives like this illustrate how local leaders in North Richland Hills are taking responsibility for making health and wellness top priorities in their community. Through their work, local residents are finding new ways and encouragement in embracing the Texas Department of Agriculture’s 3E’s of Healthy Living — Education, Exercise and Eating Right.

 “A Happy, Healthy, Connected Community,” that’s the vision statement for the North Richland Hills Parks and Recreation Department. It’s a motto that guides the city in expanding health and wellness initiatives for residents.

“We hear about the rising obesity rates in Texas and across the country, and this is especially concerning when it comes to our children,” Mayor Trevino said. “The evidence suggests that if we don’t reverse these trends, we’re in danger of raising the first generation of Americans who will die younger than the generation before them. That’s why in North Richland Hills we’re encouraging families to be active and improve their health and wellness.”

Hutto's Mayor Holland Gets Firsthand Look at Summer Nutrition


Posted July 25, 2014.
Hutto Mayor Debbie Holland Hutto Mayor Hollandrecently experienced firsthand the work Hutto Independent School District (HISD) is doing to ensure families in need can enjoy healthy meals during their summer vacation. Mayor Holland is part of the Texas Department of Agriculture’s (TDA) Healthy Community Network, and she joined Suzi David, child nutrition services director for HISD, for a summer lunch at Cottonwood Elementary.  The district is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s summer nutrition programs. These programs are administered in Texas by TDA, in partnership with local meal provider agencies.

“I was most impressed with not only the choices of food that are being offered to these children, but more importantly, the commitment being made by Hutto ISD to take care of the children of Hutto,” said Mayor Holland. “This program is invaluable.”  

HISD serves about 600 people a day. To learn more about a location near you click here.   

Local school districts and nonprofit organizations in Healthy Community Network cities across the state are serving nutritious meals to children in need during the summer months. These organizations are establishing vital connections to good nutrition, which allows children to get the nutrition needed to return to school in the fall ready to succeed and build a bridge to self-sufficiency.

Photo: Hutto Mayor Debbie Holland, left, discusses the summer nutrition program with staff at Hutto ISD.

Coalition puts "Oldest Town in Texas" on Trail to Good Health



Dr. Roger Van Horn, Mayor of Nacogdoches and Nacogdoches Mayorlongtime dentist, understands the importance of promoting healthy lifestyles for the city’s residents. That’s why he is a supporter of the Healthy Nacogdoches Coalition (Coalition), a partnership that was started by Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital that now includes the city of Nacogdoches and numerous community organizations.


“I have seen firsthand the results of unhealthy living every day for the past 44 years in my dental practice,” he said. “The need for healthy habits is so important for our residents. The Healthy Nacogdoches Coalition’s efforts to establish initiatives like our no-smoking ordinance, the Healthy Nacogdoches Activity and Dining Guide, and the Running of the Blueberries 5K keep the message of healthy living on the forefront of our residents’ minds.”


Mayor Van Horn’s experience and the success of the Coalition illustrate that sustainable and strong health and wellness initiatives depend on many local partner organizations. These partnerships help families make healthy choices today in an effort to help avoid unnecessary and preventable health care costs in the future.


In Nacogdoches, residents have exciting new choices when it comes to getting fit. A Coalition initiative helped fund an expansion of the city’s trail system and the building of fitness stations along the trail. The improvements added physical activity options for residents and enhanced the beauty of the “Oldest Town in Texas.”


“Providing a no-cost, pet and family-friendly trail system that is easily accessible for residents and visitors is invaluable,” Mayor Van Horn said. “The beautiful backdrop attracts citizens of all ages from all walks of life, and gets them out and active.”


The city of Nacogdoches is implementing its own wellness program for the 2013-2014 fiscal year. The plan includes promoting the trails, wellness practices, healthy cooking and much more. The city manager and other team members also participated in the regional fitness challenge — 2013 Lighten Up East Texas.


Mayor Van Horn noted that Coalition member Nacogdoches Independent School District (NISD) plays an important role in combating hunger by connecting children in need with healthy meals during the summer vacation. The NISD nutrition staff connects children with meals offered at churches and parks through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program, which is administered by the Texas Department of Agriculture. NISD also offers activities at the meal sites. Each Tuesday when the program is operating, the Nacogdoches Rotary Club brings its Mobile Library to one of two parks that are feeding sites.


Other organizations that are part of the Coalition include Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches Medical Center and the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce. The Coalition also has a committee that focuses on diabetes prevention and a website that offers a variety of resources. Mayor Van Horn gives the Coalition and its members a lot of credit for helping him bring community organizations together to make good health a priority.


“I often use the Coalition as an example of how public/private partnerships can work and be successful,” Mayor Van Horn said. “The Coalition does that. It also is notable that the Coalition and its message of healthy living apply to the greater good. The message works with individuals from all backgrounds and is perfect for our diverse community. Their health initiatives can touch our residents in a positive way, regardless of their income or location.”

Children Enjoy Balanced Summer Program at Tomball Kids Club


The people of Tomball enjoy a strong sense of community in a great Houston-area location. Events like 2nd Saturday at the Depot, the 5K Bunny Run and the Rails and Trails Mud Bug Festival are just a few of the ways the city keeps residents engaged and visitors intrigued.


One very popular event just for Tomball’s children spans seven weeks during the summer. For three days during each of those weeks, the Tomball Kid’s Club brings together local businesses, faith-based organizations, city government and other volunteers to serve meals, as well as introduce children to fun and educational activities.


“The children involved not only receive a healthy lunch, but they have some type of organized event to keep them busy,” said Tomball Mayor Gretchen Fagan. “The business partners in the community truly believe that this program is extremely helpful in developing these young children.”


The well-balanced Tomball Kid’s Club incorporates all of the Texas Department of Agriculture’s 3E’s of Healthy Living — Education, Exercise and Eating Right. By teaching children about healthy lifestyles today, communities like Tomball are helping to ensure our great state has a healthy future.


Tomball businesses that previously provided meals include H-E-B, Cisco Salsa Company and Buffalo Wild Wings. The Tomball Police Department and the Tomball Fire Department, along with local faith-based organizations and schools, and Lone Star College, helped with activities. Businesses such as Lowe’s and WCA, a local waste management company, also provided support.


Many of the same organizations are expected to be involved during summer 2014. The program’s growing popularity illustrates how this community is soaking up the opportunity for healthy lifestyles. Participation has increased from 446 children in 2011 to 1,518 children in 2013. Plans are currently being made for this summer’s program.


The success of the Tomball Kid’s Club is a result of the city leaders’ ability to garner support from a broad spectrum of the community. Their work in pulling together other community leaders to engage young Texans through providing summer meals and enriching activities serves as an example others can follow.


“Tomball has a great community volunteer base and that is what it takes,” Mayor Fagan said. “The city alone cannot accomplish what it does without that incredible number of volunteers we have. It just takes the desire and organization to set up a similar program.”

Other mayors and local elected officials who would like to learn more about Tomball’s health initiatives and the Tomball Kid’s Club should contact Rosalie Dillon, community events coordinator, at rdillon@tomballtx.gov or (281) 610-2595.

Photos: Brooklyn Taylor's outstanding participation in a recycling program during last year's Tomball Kid's Club earned her a special prize - a ride to the first day of school chauffeured by Mayor Fagan. Photos courtesy of Mayor Fagan.

Waco Mayor Malcolm Duncan Enlists Community Support to make Health and Wellness a Priority in City's Comprehensive Plan


Since taking office in Waco Mayor at Education SummitMay 2012, Mayor Malcolm Duncan Jr. has worked to keep Waco on a healthy path that includes diet, exercise and so much more. His recent efforts have roots in the Prosper Waco initiative that, in addition to health and wellness, addresses poverty-related community issues such as transportation, education and job creation. In 2013, Prosper Waco generated a health needs report that spurred impressive action.

“Our Prosper Waco community health care group endorsed the community health needs assessment and charged a group with developing strategies for implementation,” Mayor Duncan said. “The response was overwhelming. This group of volunteers from multiple service providers worked over the summer to develop a presentation to our community.”


Collaborations like Prosper Waco and the Healthy Community Network improve the lives of individuals by bringing leaders together to focus on healthy changes at home, in the workplace and in the community.


Prosper Waco’s Community Health Improvement Plan working group agreed to address three initial priorities:

  • Access to health care
  • Obesity
  • Women’s health

The group met six times and created a detailed plan that was released in November.

Prosper Waco’s plan is only the most recent of Mayor Duncan’s efforts to improve health and wellness in the Waco area. In addition to serving on the Waco City Council, his history of dedication to the community includes serving on the board of the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District. He continues to ensure the Public Health District has a positive impact in the community.

“We are working to make our Public Health District an advocate for one of our City Council's primary goals of a prosperous community,” Mayor Duncan said. “We have simplified our initiative to the three priorities of health, education and income. We have found a tremendous base of support for this in all sectors of our community — from non-profits to industry stakeholders to health care institutions.”

Mayor Duncan is working to ensure Waco continues to be a dynamic city with a bright future. The potential for that future to be a healthy one continues to come into focus with the plans being put into place today. For more information, visit www.waco-texas.com.

PHOTO: Mayor Duncan spoke at a session during last November's Greater Waco Community Education Alliance event. Photo by Mark Randolph.

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