Lancaster HEAL Zone Partnership to tackle obesity

(L to R) Bishop Henry Hearns, AVPH board; City Councilman Ken Mann; Michele Bowers, Lancaster School District Superintendent; Amy C. Wiese, Kaiser Permanente; Dr. Phillip Tuso, Kaiser Permanente; and Michelle Kiefer, AVPH Executive Director.

LANCASTER – Lancaster HEAL Zone Partnership partners Tuesday announced the launch of their HEAL (Healthy Eating Active Living) Zone Community Action Plan to encourage healthy eating and active living in the City of Lancaster. The Lancaster HEAL Zone Partnership is a recipient of a $300,000 grant, as part of a larger Kaiser Permanente investment to fight obesity throughout Southern California. By encouraging healthy choices, HEAL Zones aim to prevent diseases which often result from obesity, such as diabetes and heart disease.

“With more than twenty percent of the children and nearly forty percent of adults in the Antelope Valley categorized as overweight, it’s crucial that we take drastic measures to combat this epidemic,” said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris. “The HEAL Zone Partnership is a way we can work smarter, combining the health initiatives of numerous community groups, and multiplying our efforts. This project will improve the health of our community by encouraging people to exercise, advocating healthy eating habits, and promoting better nutrition in schools.”

Tuesday’s kick-off event started with a press conference at Lancaster City Hall announcing the receipt of the Kaiser Permanente grant.

“We are thrilled to receive this funding from Kaiser Permanente because it will allow us to make changes that reflect the specific needs of our community,” said Michelle Kiefer, Executive Director of AVPH. “The partnership with Kaiser Permanente is invaluable in our campaign to promote healthy eating and active living in the City of Lancaster. We appreciate not only the funding from Kaiser Permanente, but also the expertise and technical support they are continuing to share as part of this initiative.”

While funded through Kaiser Permanente’s grant, the Lancaster HEAL Zone Partnership project is spearheaded by Antelope Valley Partners for Health (AVPH), working alongside the City of Lancaster and the Lancaster School District. The project also brings together a community coalition comprised of local public agencies, four schools, multiple community-based organizations, employers, local businesses, faith-based organizations and health care providers to address the following goals:

  • Decrease calorie consumption
  • Increase consumption of healthy food and beverages (ie: more fresh fruits and vegetables, drink water)
  • Increase physical activity (ie: reduce television viewing time, increase exercise)

“Obesity is one of the most pressing health concerns in our community today,” said Dr. Phillip Tuso, a Nephrologist at Kaiser Permanente Lancaster Medical Office. “Poor diet, inactivity, and obesity contribute to the risk of many health issues, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke. We’re especially concerned about the high rate of childhood obesity in the Antelope Valley. That’s why it’s important that we all work together to make it easier to eat healthy and move more as part as this collaborative effort.”

The Lancaster HEAL Zone Partnership plans to focus on improving food choices in schools, while making families aware of locations with healthy food selections. In addition, the project will encourage the public to engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity for at least 60 minutes a day, particularly making use of the City’s bikeways, walkways and trails for everyday commuting, recreation, and exercise.

“It has been so rewarding to begin to work with the people of the City of Lancaster on how to make our community a healthier place—where it’s easier to eat healthily and move more,” said Jean Varden, Project Consultant of the Lancaster HEAL Zone Partnership and AVPH Board Member. “We are excited about the strong partnership between the school district and the City to create conditions which provide opportunities for healthy choices.”

The vision of the Lancaster HEAL Partnership is that residents living within Lancaster’s HEAL Zone will be able to eat better and move more as a part of daily life.

For more information or to get involved, contact Tiara Sigaran at Antelope Valley Partners for Health at 661 942-4719 ext. 459 or

(Information via press release from the City of Lancaster.)

  2 comments for “Lancaster HEAL Zone Partnership to tackle obesity

  1. Karaleigh
    March 30, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    You know- after the schools physical testing- I could not figure out for the life of me why my 11 year old daughter (5′ 95lbs) was told by her teacher that she is 20lbs overweight (obese). Now it makes perfect sense. The LSD was part of this deal to secure the grant. It seems that the bogus numbers were created for this purpose. My child was used along with hundreds of others, for financial and political gain. Not only is my daughter not a pound over weight (let alone obese!) she has a serious heart condition, and this bogus test result coerced her into starving herself and exacerbating her heart problem! I am disgusted that our children are being used this way.

  2. Burkey
    March 29, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    Why does it take 300 grand to encourage residents to eat healthy? Is the money going to pay for food? Healthy food is more expensive; one would guess there is some poverty in the AV; will some of that money be spent toward nutritious/fresh/whole/organic foods…or…what? I mean that is a lot of money, what is it being actually spent on…in the quest to “influence” people….? The whole thing just seems kind of vague.

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