In 2016, the GAVA coalition made incredible progress in South and Southeast Austin to improve nutrition and increase physical activity. GAVA is proud to work with more than 1,125 community residents, eight partner organizations, and 500 community stakeholders to bring access to healthy food and physical activity to Dove Springs and 78745.
Read below for highlights from each of our sectors, or read our complete 2016 End of Year Report!
GAVA Key Wins
GAVA measures "key wins" as positive steps in increasing healthy food and physical activity in the GAVA zip codes. All key wins have been grounded in evidence and led by resident and neighborhood leaders to ensure that GAVA's work is effective and rooted in the community's needs.
The Early Childhood (EC) sector is GAVA's newest sector, focused on improving health access for children ages 0-5 years in 78744 and 78745. Through close collaboration with United Way for Greater Austin, GAVA organizers connected with the daycare centers in the neighborhoods, "family, friends, and neighbors" networks of home-based early childcare providers, and public pre-Kindergarten educators. GAVA's 2016 goal was to introduce the Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) - Early Childhood curriculum to these providers and help them establish better access to physical activity and healthy food for the children in their care.
Community Food Access
GAVA teams and organizational partners have been working hard to make fresh and local produce, healthy snacks, and other nutritious options available at affordable prices across the 78744 and 78745 zip codes.
Three farm stands, supported by Sustainable Food Center and run by residents of the area, make fresh, local, organic produce available weekly to GAVA residents.
In addition, a total of eight corner stores now participate in GAVA's Healthy Corner Store Initiative, funded through the City of Austin's Fresh for Less program. They stock fresh produce and other healthy items to increase access to healthy food options in the neighborhoods!
In 2016, GAVA's Physical Activity sector teams expanded both their local efforts and city-wide impact! In collaboration with Austin Parks Foundation (APF), GAVA residents have now officially adopted eight city-owned parks in 78744 and 78745 through the City of Austin's Adopt-a-Park program, and are stewarding four 1/4 mile stretches of greenbelt along Williamson Creek. APF and GAVA park teams are also working with the Austin Independent School District to establish the first ever Adopt-a-Park Program for school parks, too!
Park adoption gives resident leaders the tools to activate their parks, advocate for improved funding and maintenance, and leverage hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants and in-kind support to improve their greenspaces!
This year, the school sector focused on institutionalizing GAVA best practices at the school and district levels to provide students and families with healthy activities, nutrition education, and resources for health access. GAVA schools strengthened their Coordinated School Health teams, which helped increase participation in Breakfast in the Classroom programs, bring more salad bars to school cafeterias, and promote CATCH healthy messaging in school hallways.
GAVA Geographic Teams in 78744 and 78745
GAVA geographic (geo) teams work to eliminate multi-sector barriers to health access in their micro-neighborhoods. For the past four years, these leaders have organized their neighbors to improve traffic safety, ensure safe routes to parks and schools, improve local parks and creeks, and guide the efforts to bring healthy, affordable foods to their neighborhoods, one store or farm stand at a time.
As a coalition, GAVA is moving in exciting directions. Resident leaders have been moving towards working together in coordinated, cross-zip-code efforts to improve safety, mobility, traffic, greenspaces, and food access, which has created systemic changes citywide. The coalition is looking into the other issues that impact the long-term success of GAVA's work, including the city's re-write of its land development code (CodeNEXT) and other policies.