Staff Report

Solvang and Buellton have been designated HEAL (Healthy Eating Active Living) cities for prioritizing physical, social and economic conditions to make health a reality for all people. 

“It’s an exciting time because both Solvang and Buellton achieved this status in November 2018,” said Executive Director Tommy Speidel of the Stuart C, Gildred Family YMCA. “Our hope is that these cities will continue to build on the work they have done over the years related to improving healthy food access, land-use, and worksite wellness.”

The HEAL Santa Ynez Valley Coalition is a collaboration launched in spring 2018 that includes the YMCA, People Helping People, Solvang Chamber of Commerce, Veggie Rescue, local public agencies, community-based organizations, local businesses, and health providers.

A HEAL city helps to harness the power of local governments to advance health equity through resolutions with policy goals for general plans, land use, healthy food access and work site wellness.

At its core, the campaign aims to engage municipal leaders to champion health in their communities by adopting policies and promoting opportunities for residents and municipal employees. The campaign provides coaching and technical assistance to support the process. The HEAL Cities Campaign is a program of Public Health Advocates formed in partnership with the League of California Cities and Kaiser Permanente.

In November, Mayor Holly Sierra and the Buellton City Council adopted a proclamation to become a Healthy Eating Active Living City. In the proclamation, Buellton made a commitment to future development of pedestrian and bicycling infrastructures, access to nutrition for all, and support for schools in health education and nutrition.

The next week, Solvang City Council approved the measure through resolution declaring the city as Healthy Eating Active Living City. With the measure, it made a commitment to support wellness initiatives for residents and the local workforce, ensure equal access to healthy foods including the farmers market, and assist schools and other agencies in developing programs that combat obesity.   

“The HEAL Campaign will help us find new ways to support an active and healthy community,” said Dean Palius, CEO of People Helping People and a participant in the coalition. “We live in an ideal setting for individuals to pursue healthy lifestyles, but it can still be hard to accomplish with so many daily responsibilities.”