Ideas for Action
Health & Community Services
Local governments are essential and important providers of services and programs that promote health and build community. Local agencies provide a host of direct services for health, child safety, education, elder care, job creation, financial assistance and other social needs.
Local agencies can provide library services, classes, events, and programs that engage residents in improving the community and their health.
Click on the headings below for expanded information on more ways to improve residents’ health through community service efforts.
Create a wellness task force.
Encourage community participation and increase civic engagement by creating a wellness task force or coalition that can seek out local opportunities to participate in neighborhood health promotion and create new community health initiatives. Encourage the implementation of creative solutions tailored to the needs of your community.
Support healthy eating options and enterprises.
Develop community-based group activities that link procurement of affordable, healthy food with job training in purchasing and preparing food. For example, provide incentives, including recognition or endorsement, for restaurants that promote healthy options. Community kitchens, senior gleaners groups, and schools with gardens can be great partners for improving nutrition and providing job training.
Locate essential public services and facilities where they can be accessed by those who need them.
Site community service providers in or near the neighborhoods they serve and along convenient transit routes. Cluster services near one another so that users can access multiple services.
Increase physical activity by entering into joint use agreements.
Partner with school districts and other local organizations to establish joint use agreements allowing shared use of athletic fields, playgrounds, and recreation centers by community members, recreation leagues, and school children.
Ensure that programs and facilities are accessible to all residents.
Ensure full and equitable access to community centers, schools, and all public facilities that provide programs or services protecting and promoting health. Provide areas where people can carry out healthy activities like support breastfeeding by providing safe, comfortable, convenient places for lactating women to express breast milk.
Promote farmer’s markets and community gardens.
Though local agencies create allowances for farmers’ markets and community gardens through zoning and conditional use permits, community services can also support farmers’ market and community gardens. Advertise farmer’s market and community garden plot availability in local agency newsletters. Provide water, electricity, and garbage collection for markets and gardens and provide staff time for set up and maintenance.
Farmers’ markets provide a great source of fresh, locally produced fruits, vegetables and other food products and also link local agriculture business with the community and facilitate social interaction. Community gardens also provide fresh produce, increase physical activity, and promote social interaction and cohesion.