HEAL Cities & Towns Campaign for the Mid-Atlantic

Helping Municipal Leaders Create Healthy, Prosperous Communities

The Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Cities & Towns Campaign provides free training and technical assistance to municipal leaders to adopt policies that make it easier for residents to eat better and move more.

The HEAL Cities & Towns Campaign is an initiative of The Institute for Public Health Innovation in partnership with the Maryland Municipal League and the Virginia Municipal League. 

HEAL SPotlight: Edmonston, maryland

Edmonston residents preparing raised beds at the Edmonston Community Garden.  

Edmonston residents preparing raised beds at the Edmonston Community Garden.  

I’m thankful for the HEAL program and how its made us more conscious about our living, our eating, and our activities. HEAL is making it easier for us to bring ideas to help us become a healthier community…. Before it seemed difficult for people to access or afford healthier choices of food but now we have community gardens where our residents learn and can grow their own food — HEAL is part of making that happen!
— Edmonston Mayor Tracy Gant

The Town of Edmonston was recently awarded the HEAL Cities and Town Campaign’s highest recognition -- Platinum Level status.  The recognition highlights not only the Town’s achievements bringing healthy eating and active living policies and practices to the community, but also the Town’s commitment to promoting a culture of health through partnerships and collaboration. The Town has enthusiastically participated in the HEAL Campaign by passing HEAL policies, developing new infrastructure, and updating Town planning and design.

For example, the Town has developed an edible food forest in a Town median, created a community garden for residents, and began a centrally located farmers market that allows EBT users to double their spending through a community benefits program. In addition, the Town has created a bike and pedestrian concept plan and built bike rest stops along central Town bike routes. Policy changes enforce the Town’s commitment as illustrated by its Healthy Meeting policy that provides healthy food options at municipal meetings and its smoking ban in town- owned or leased buildings.

Speaking with the HEAL Campaign, Rodney Barnes, Town Administrator, commented: "The biggest thing that HEAL has done is helped us change the culture…. Everyone asks the question, ‘Is this healthy?’ before they ever undertake any kind of food initiative. The community garden has really been a success. We have 10 plots now and a waiting list. We have surplus vegetables that are shared with the community. This and many of our other HEAL activities are geared toward the whole culture change to think positively about healthy eating." 

Mr. Barnes credits Edmonston’s accomplishments to the active community participants who advocate and promote healthy eating and active living. The Town’s Green Team, a local community group, has been a key player in finding new ways to create a greener and healthier town. Councilman John Johnson is an active Green Team member, who also serves as the community garden coordinator. In addition, broader support from both Sustainable Maryland and Eco City Farms has helped reinforce HEAL policies and practices that contribute to the wider mission to create sustainable practices for people and the environment.

Edmonston’s culture of health and enthusiastic HEAL participation will continue to evolve as the Town and its HEAL partners collaborate to draw on new and creative ways to incorporate healthy eating and active living into the Town’s life, culture, and economy.