Baldwin Park, California

2014

Excerpt from Lessons for Leaders:

Baldwin Park moved beyond an informed community engagement model to authentic collaboration and sustainable resident empowerment through People on the Move, a multilingual, multicultural initiative that trains resident leaders to become content experts and to shepherd each healthy community strategy and/or policy from inception to implementation. As a result, the city has changed the way it involves residents in policy making.

For more information, read the full story.


July 2014

Baldwin Park, a small suburb of Los Angeles in the San Gabriel Valley, is a lower-income community with a high proportion of foreign-born residents and native Spanish-speakers. Many struggle to meet their basic needs, especially because of Southern California’s high cost of living. This is complicated by limited options available for healthy foods and places to be physically active.

Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities (HKHC) Project Director Rosa Soto explained the challenge. “When you have five or six times more fast food restaurants and convenience stores than you have grocery stores and when most everything being sold is unhealthy, people don’t have a choice.”

In response, the California Center for Public Health Advocacy (CCPHA), where Rosa is the Senior Director for the Southern California Office, and the HKHC partners implemented People on the Move. This multilingual, multicultural initiative worked to change environments for school-aged children and their families in ways that promote healthy eating and increased physical activity. They focused on decreasing unhealthy food marketing and advertising while increasing access to healthy foods in corner stores located near schools. In addition, the sought to improve walkability and access to places for people to be physically active.

The local health department, school district, city government and community residents all collaborated together in new and exciting ways to achieve many wins toward a healthier Baldwin Park.

Among many successes, they have accomplished the following:

  • A complete streets policy was adopted in the summer of 2011 and was nationally recognized by the National Complete Streets Coalition as having the strongest implementation component of any policy nationwide. The policy language was also noted for including a community engagement component after policy adoption to ensure implementation. Their first complete street redevelopment project is underway.
  • They established successful partnerships with 14 corner stores, including a new grocery store that features a healthy floor plan, in their “Healthy Selection” program.  Healthy Selection stores are supported by trained resident leaders who train store owners, monitor program compliance and tag healthy products. In addition, CCPHA catalyzed connections with produce vendors who accommodated the needs of smaller markets, and they provided marketing collateral to promote these stores.
  • CCPHA supported an active and engaged Baldwin Park Resident Advisory Council using a five-step community-driven model focused on building community capacity to address health disparities through the mobilization of city leaders and residents. Resident advocates were engaged and trained with the skills and resources needed to design, analyze, develop, execute, monitor and sustain various projects. Resident leaders were key players in the passage of the complete streets policy and the successful Healthy Selection program.
  • A “Baldwin Park Cycler Leadership” program was developed to enlist youth in environmental audits and to discuss bicycle access needs that will be addressed through physical projects.

One of the most rewarding aspects of the project has been the strengthened collaboration with residents. “Before HKHC, the city of Baldwin Park did not have a history of significant engagement with community members on issues including safety, food access, school connectivity and walkability,” Rosa said. “Through the work of the HKHC partnership and resident engagement, there are now shared goals that benefit the greater community. We have laid the groundwork for bringing elected officials, planners and community members together with a sense of trust, family and mutual respect.”

For more information, view the short film about their work.