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 City SPotlight: Edmonston, mD

Updated July 2019


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’s Platinum HEA status highlights not only the Towns 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 through their work passing HEAL policies, developing new infrastructure, and updating Town planning and design. Touching upon some of the Town’s accomplishments, Rodney Barnes, the Town Administrator, commented “the biggest things is that [HEAL] has changed the culture. Everyone always asks, is this healthy?’ before they take on any sort of food initiative.”

This culture change is both the cause and effect of Town wide efforts to implement comprehensive health strategies. 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 routs. Policy changes enforce the Town’s commitment as illustrated through their healthy meeting policy and smoking ban in town owned or leased buildings.

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 has been a key player as the community group finds new ways to create a greener and healthier Town. Green Team member, Council Member John Johnson is an active participant who also serves 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 progress and participation has continued to evolve as the community draws on new ways to incorporate healthy eating and active living in productive and creative ways. In April 2019, the Town was awarded a HEAL Implementation Grant to support the Town’s efforts to develop new bike lanes around local parks and trails.