Building a Healthier Chicago
Building a Healthier Chicago (BHC) launched in 2008, when a group of 20 individuals involved in health and health care in Chicago convened a consortium to address the health of Chicagoans. In just over a year, the group grew to several hundred "stakeholders" focused on this effort. Today, BHC's vision is to make Chicago the healthiest place to live in America. To increase its impact, BHC became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 2014. It continues its rich heritage as a stakeholder organization and works to create a culture of healthy living in major social settings throughout the city including worksites, faith communities, schools, and restaurants.
Summary of Activities:
The organization's efforts all work toward the BHC's goals of improving Chicago's health by understanding social settings, building trust, fostering innovation, and collaborating with well-positioned partners to promote healthy lifestyle behaviors with an emphasis on nutrition and physical activity. BHC has four priority initiatives:
- BHC pioneered the State's “Illinois Healthy Worksite Designation” which is endorsed by The Governor's Council on Health and Physical Fitness and the Illinois Department of Public Health. BHC also created a toolkit for employers interested in implementing new programs with the long-term goal of becoming the city's best resource for employers interested in worksite wellness best practices and emerging trends.
- “Powered by Faith, Chicago” is a reproducible model for major cities to strengthen the capacity of faith communities seeking to create a culture of healthy living in their congregations and neighborhoods. A partnership with Living Abundantly Ministries, this evidence-based, faith-centric initiative was developed with input from a planning team represented by more than 3-dozen leading health and faith-based organizations across the Chicago-area. The BHC Faith Community Initiative, in partnership with The Center for Faith & Community Health Transformation, is also working with The Chicago Public Health Department to coordinate faith community input to inform the next iteration of "Healthy Chicago," the city's blueprint for community heath improvement in Chicago.
- Through “Eat Real, Chicago,” BHC promotes access to healthy foods in schools and neighborhoods. Each year, in cooperation with its national partner the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), BHC coordinates Food Day Chicago, a weeklong celebration of sustainable, healthy, and affordable food. The main event in Chicago's Daley Plaza draws hundreds of attendees, including students from Chicago Public Schools.
- BHC awards restaurants of all types who fill their menus with nutritious and local food with the “F.I.T. City” certification. More than 50 restaurants in 21 neighborhoods and the Midway Airport concourse have received the award to date. Restaurants working to earn the F.I.T. City certification have increased the availability of healthy food across the city, and the certifications that have resulted from those efforts provide consumers with information to weigh the nutritional value of their food choices. The initiative convenes monthly roundtable discussions with chefs, restaurant owners, and community members to share experiences and best practices for achieving menus that are Fresh, Innovative, and Tasty. In addition, F.I.T. City restaurants are featured monthly at the Chicago AMWA Consortium networking event, allowing chefs and restaurant owners to discuss how they transformed their establishments to become "F.I.T. City" approved and share samples of healthy foods with physicians and guests.
Together, BHC's efforts are laying the foundation for a healthier Chicago by improving the accessibility of healthy food and, perhaps more importantly, a more knowledgeable and empowered population armed with the tools necessary to make meaningful long-term lifestyle and policy changes.
Alignment to the National Quality Strategy (NQS):
Building a Healthier Chicago's initiatives promote:
- Working with communities to promote wide use of best practices to enable healthy living.