[Inland Valley Daily Bulletin]

The Healthy Ontario Initiative won $250,000 in implementation funding under the BUILD Health Challenge Tuesday for its efforts in reducing high rates of obesity and related diseases.

The Healthy Ontario Initiative is one of seven programs nationwide to win the grant.

Said Ontario Mayor Paul S. Leon, “The city of Ontario is excited to be a partner in the Build Challenge Grant, where collaboration is the key to increasing success. Each agency and entity involved in the Healthy Ontario Initiative brings its unique knowledge and talents; bringing us closer to our shared mission of a Healthy Ontario by creating sustainable changes in the community where people live, learn, work and play.”

The money will be used to support the Healthy Ontario Initiative’s efforts to increase prevention and wellness in at-risk communities through education, nutrition and aligning organizations and resources behind a shared vision, according to a press release.

Organizations involved include Partners for Better Health, the city, San Antonio Regional Hospital, the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health, El Sol and the Ontario-Montclair School District.

The program will focus on a five-square-mile area identified by San Antonio Regional Hospital and Kaiser Permanente with a poverty rate of 96.3 percent, high numbers of English-language laerners and low parent educational achievement. Kaiser Permanente invest $1 million to support the planning and development of the Community Action Plan.

“The city of Ontario and our Healthy Ontario partners have formulated the right recipe and the strategies to improve health and provide health resources for everyone,” said Evette De Luca, Executive Director of Partners for Better Health, “Our partners realize that health is everyone’s job. The key is working together and supporting each other’s efforts. This BUILD award recognizes our collective intelligence, and we anticipate that this investment will elevate the impact of our Healthy Communities model throughout our region.”

The BUILD Health Challenge was created to encourage community partnerships among local non-profit organizations, hospitals and health systems and health departments to improve the health and well-being of residents.

San Antonio Regional Hospital has also committed to match the $250,000 financially and with in-kind support. The BUILD Health Challenge will also provide technical assistance for awardees in policy development, monitoring and evaluation and more.

The Healthy Ontario initiative includes: an alignment of various data platforms and systems to better identify challenges and specific implementation strategies, improving fresh food in schools through a locally grown produce distribution model, and increasing health literacy and education.

“I’m incredibly excited about this BUILD Health Challenge Award,” said Trudy Raymundo, director of the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health. “It not only recognizes the importance of the incredible relationships we’ve already built in the city of Ontario, but really provides momentum for building the systems that link hospital, health department, city and community. That will improve the health of our residents and the future of our children.”