Tallahasseee’s iGrow wins newly-launched ” Spotlight Award”
By Daria Laycock
Tallahassee’s own iGrow South City was named a finalist in the “Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge.” iGrow South City was one of the 10 community health programs nationwide that are receiving the newly-launched “Spotlight Award.”
Mark T. Bertolini, the chairman of the Aetna Foundation and chairman and CEO of Aetna called iGrow an “ outstanding example of how important progress can be made when communities work together to look at the biggest issues facing their neighborhoods and develop healthy, home-grown solutions.”
The award is part of the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge also known as the Challenge, an initiative that was launched back in 2016 that supports 50 small-to-midsize cities and counties that are implementing innovative solutions to pressing public health issues in their communities.
Each one of the top 10 spotlight awardees will receive $25,000 to go towards the support of their health programs.
“Since the Challenge launched, we have seen numerous improvements and advancements in the health of the 50 participating communities,” said APHA executive director Georges C. Benjamin, MD. “The Spotlight Awards are a moment to showcase the innovative work being done in cities and counties to address social determinants of health.”
YELDA found that majority of those residing on in the neighborhood lived without access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
“We found that a lot of people get their food from dollar stores and convenience stores,” said Leigh Miles, Health Educator for the Florida Department of Health.
iGrow is an urban agriculture and youth empowerment program that is focused on growing healthy food for the community while providing youth employment and leadership development, this program is apart of the Tallahassee Food Network. The youth empowerment and urban agriculture program teaches farming as a means of providing one accesses to nutritional foods.
iGrow South City was recognized for their efforts of growing 100 pounds of fresh produced and disbursed it throughout the community during the summer of 2017. The amount the food that was grown and distributed was able to feed one-third of the community.
“Where a person lives has a profound impact on how they live – particularly when it comes to their health,” said Mark T. Bertolini, the chairman of the Aetna Foundation and chairman and CEO of Aetna. “The Spotlight Award recipients are outstanding examples of how important progress can be made when communities work together to look at the biggest issues facing their neighborhoods and develop healthy, home-grown solutions.”
After receiving the money, iGrow is now trying to find a way to utilize the award money for the expansion of their program. Youth programs play a major role in the iGrow communities, they have ideas for different ways to use the money towards youth programs.
“We are excited and thrilled to have been recognized for such an innovative community health project!” said Miaisha Mitchell, Co-Founder of Tallahassee Food Network.
The health project has allowed Tallahassee to be recognized on a national level. By being able to spread awareness that will help people understand the importance of the community gardens around the nation. Community gardens give the chance for residents to get involved in where their food comes from.
“It about creating a space for enterprising compositing, urban farms, farmers markets, it broadens the conversation,” said Bakari McClendon. “It brings a sense of awareness to their health, the health of their food and the action behind making the fresh food.”
A partner with iGrow South City, the Florida Health Department will help them figure out ways to use their money.
“Part of it (the money) will be used for our youth, we have so much youth volunteers, we would like to set a curriculum in place to give our youth some real-world experience,” said Leigh Miles, Health Educator for the Florida Department of Health.
The money will also help provide the program with more items that they need to continue to help the program continuously grow. Anyone can contribute to their work by sharing the news about the Tallahassee Food Network with their friends and family.
For more information on iGrow and how you can get involved visit their
Lauren Coleman contributed to this story.