The city of Henderson was recently awarded a $60,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Reinvestment Fund that will help it invest in healthy lifestyles for its residents.

“I think this is a great opportunity that gives Henderson a chance to focus on key issues in the city,” said Alejandra Fazekas, a planner in the Community Development and Services department.

Stephanie Garcia-Vause, Henderson’s community development and services director, said the grant will empower the city in its efforts to provide resources.

“At-risk neighborhoods frequently lack many of the resources needed to support good health,” she said. “The lack of access to healthy food, safe and affordable housing options, reliable transportation and medical care often result in profound health and socioeconomic consequences in low-income areas.”

Through its efforts through Southern Nevada Strong, a regional effort to look at issues within the community, the city had already been looking into many areas to enhance the lives of residents, such as increasing access to nutritious food, expanding access to preventive health care services in the community and offering housing rehabilitation programs.

It has worked with other members of the community from St. Rose Dominican Hospitals, Three Square food bank and the Southern Nevada Health District.

Applying for this grant was a natural progression to carry on the work already being done, Fazekas said. Earlier this year, the city submitted a letter of intent to the foundation and then was invited to submit a full proposal.

“We submitted that around March,” Fazekas added.

The city found out in early May that it had received the grant. The foundation received more than 170 proposals from across the country. Of the 50 cities awarded, Henderson was the only one in Nevada.

The proposal included addressing problems — and solutions — in the community.

“One thing we thought about was how there is a food desert on the east side of the community,” said Garcia-Vause, referring to a lack of grocery stores on Boulder Highway.

One solution would be attracting more supermarkets and stores to the area.

Other potential options for the community would be to create a community garden to address the lack of nutritious food options in certain neighborhoods.

The main chunk of the money awarded will be used for training and meetings. Five members of the city’s team plan to travel to Philadelphia multiple times during an 18-month period to connect with other communities for strategies on how to implement fixes.

With leftover funds, Garcia-Vause hopes to look into addressing one or two of the solutions the city had explored.

Wanting to address other issues, Henderson is looking for more grants to help invest in the community.

“The (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Reinvestment Fund) grant is a prestigious and high-profile grant,” Garcia-Vause said, adding that being a recipient could help the city better compete for other grants in the future.


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by Michael Lyle