The Aetna Foundation has awarded a $25,000 grant to The Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, Inc. (CHCF) to help Latino families in the Bronx adopt healthy eating habits and exercise regularly. The funds support “Healthy Living,” the organization’s nutrition and fitness program for students and their families at P.S. 279 Captain Manuel Rivera, Jr., in the Fordham Heights neighborhood. CHCF’s “Healthy Living” combines Latino culture with fun activities for the whole family, such as dancing, cooking classes and games. The free 10-week classes meet Saturdays at P.S./M.S. 279 at 2100 Walton Avenue. Elba Montalvo, president and CEO of CHCF, says that “Healthy Living” aims to reverse high obesity rates and diet-related health problems among Latino families in the Bronx. Program participants, she notes, often suffer from diabetes, asthma or high blood pressure. “Our participants work long hours, often at non-traditional times, which puts a strain on them and makes planning healthy meals and exercise a challenge,” said Montalvo. “Buying healthy food can be especially difficult. Full-service supermarkets are scarce. Many families have very limited incomes and are forced to choose cheap, non-nutritious food, resulting in both malnutrition and obesity. ‘Healthy Living’ shows another way. We appreciate Aetna Foundation’s support.” Sharon Dalton, vice president of the Aetna Foundation and director of its regional grant making, said, “Our mission is to promote health and wellness, particularly in underserved communities. By bringing together families and incorporating Hispanic traditions, CHCF’s program is a great way to make healthy new habits stick.” Since CHCF launched “Healthy Living” in 2004, more than 800 people have taken classes. The program’s culture-based approach uses Latino traditions and values, such as traditional foods, Spanish seasonings, promenading in the plaza, dancing and music. The program includes field trips to farmers’ markets, tips for grocery shopping on a budget, and cooking classes that recreate favorite traditional dishes with less fat or sugar. The program is run by bilingual, bicultural staff members.
“Healthy Living” has had a positive impact on the program’s graduates. A 2010 survey of people who had participated earlier that year found that 80 percent reported losing weight and 87 percent were eating more vegetables than before they took part in the program.About the Aetna Foundation The Aetna Foundation, Inc. is the independent charitable and philanthropic arm of Aetna Inc. Since 1980, Aetna and the Aetna Foundation have contributed $413 million in grants and sponsorships, including $19.2 million in 2011. As a national health foundation, we promote wellness, health, and access to high-quality health care for everyone. This work is enhanced by the time and commitment of Aetna employees, who have volunteered more than 2.6 million hours since 2003. Aetna’s current giving is focused on addressing the rising rate of adult and childhood obesity in the U.S.; promoting racial and ethnic equity in health and health care; and advancing integrated health care. For more information, visit www.AetnaFoundation.org. About The Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, Inc. Since 1982, The Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, Inc. (CHCF) has been dedicated to combining education and advocacy to expand opportunities for children and families, and strengthen the voice of the Latino community. Believing that the most effective way to support Latino families is by building upon their existing strengths and fostering self-sufficiency, CHCF provides a number of programs and services to the community through Youth Development programs and an Early Care & Education Institute. Our policy work, grounded in our direct services, amplifies the voice of our communities on the local, state, and national policy levels around issues of child welfare, early care, education, juvenile justice, and the well-being of Latino children. Through our programs and policy work, CHCF is creating a shared prosperity for all Americans. For more information, please call (212) 206-1090 or visit our web site at http://www.chcfinc.org.