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Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge Highlights StoryMap

Our Food Policy Council participated in the Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge from mid-2020 through mid-2022. We were part of a team representing Cincinnati as one of the 20 communities selected for the Challenge. Each community focused on a particular community-based project to reduce health disparities in chronic disease outcomes.

The project outcomes were created into a virtual StoryMap, which is embedded and linked below. The Challenge Team suggests reading through all portions of the StoryMap, starting with "Who We Are."

What is the StoryMap?

The Aetna Foundation, the American Public Health Association, Healthy Places by Design, and the National Association of Counties formed what they call the “Challenge Team.” The Challenge Team called for proposals in 2020 that would work to improve access to food and health services in a variety of sectors.

The HCCC StoryMap is a combined series of interactive stories that features the approaches and impacts of our 20 Challenge communities. It tells an engaging narrative that spans from the very beginnings of the grant initiative until its end. Not only does this tool highlight each project team’s incredible work in improving access to food and health services, but also serves as a tool for those looking to advance health equity in their own communities.

The StoryMap is separated into six stories, each of which features images, quotes, audio clips, and video clips of project team leads, partners, and community members. The goal of this StoryMap is to promote our Challenge work and share important lessons learned from the last two years through the voices of those directly engaged in the initiative.

The Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council Project

Our Challenge focus was access to foods that support healthy eating patterns.

In the StoryMap, our Food Policy Council is featured in Parts One, Three, Five, and Six, if you want to jump ahead to where we are specifically mentioned (but please go back and check out the rest!).

Our three goals were:

  • Amplify community voice in governance of food security and health programs

  • Coordinate programs of food access, affordability, and education

  • Develop model policies and procedures for amplifying community voice in systems governance

We partnered with The Health Collaborative, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Produce Perks Midwest, Freestore Foodbank, OSU’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), and other partners, in order to accomplish these goals.

Our successes from this project are highlighted below:

"Through this process, the team learned what it means to serve as conveners and catalysts for community-led change. They crafted deeper connections with powerhouse organizations in their city like local government institutions and retail companies, and secured additional funding from Kroger Foundation to continue their community-driven efforts. This shift in local funding practices and their project’s focus on food access and community engagement has positioned the team to work together more effectively toward their broader goal of developing and maintaining healthier lives for all Cincinnati residents!"

If you are interested in learning more about how you can get involved, read through the entirety of StoryMap Part Six, which includes information for funders. The work we do cannot be completed without your support!


This work is supported by APHA, a membership association that champions the health of all people and all communities, with support from the Aetna Foundation, an independent, charitable, philanthropic affiliate of CVS Health. The views presented here are those of the author and not necessarily those of the American Public Health Association or the Aetna Foundation, its directors, officers, or staff.


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