Rancho Cucamonga, California

2013

Excerpt from Communities in Action:

Socioeconomic differences and health disparities bisect Rancho Cucamonga, CA into two communities with distinct needs. Healthy RC, a city–community partnership, is working to bridge that divide through authentic community engagement.

For more information, read the full story.


2014

Excerpt from Lessons for Leaders:

The City of Rancho Cucamonga has institutionalized its Healthy RC initiative within the city manager’s office with three facilitative outreach staff. Healthy RC has connected city leaders and officials to local, regional and national networks and provided capacity-building training and resources to stakeholders, including residents. It provides direct opportunities for open dialogue with city officials for low-income adult residents (via Campeones para la Comunidad) and youth (via Healthy RC Youth Leaders). Both groups have conducted assessments and directly engaged in healthy-policy change efforts, including the development of The Road Map for a Healthy Future in Rancho Cucamonga.

For more information, read the full story.


November 2013

Rancho Cucamonga was once a small agricultural community of 50,000 tucked into Southern California’s San Bernardino County. Today, after several decades of rapid growth, it is an ethnically and racially diverse suburban community of 175,000. Vineyards and citrus groves have been replaced by sprawling housing and retail development, including an abundance of unhealthy food outlets.

These environmental and population changes led to an increase in obesity and related health problems, particularly in the southwest section of the city. Southwest Cucamonga is a predominantly Latino community that has had higher rates of poverty, deteriorated housing stock and few neighborhood amenities. There are no grocery stores selling fresh produce, so residents must go elsewhere to shop. Because many rely on public transportation, they can buy only as much fresh food as they can carry home on the bus. In addition, there is only one local park, and most streets lack curbs and bike lanes as well as sidewalks. Safety concerns have been a barrier to exercising and playing outdoors.

With an interest in addressing barriers proactively and through collaboration with the community, the City of Rancho Cucamonga launched an initiative called Healthy RC in 2008. Healthy RC strives to further policies and programs that promote healthy minds, healthy bodies and a healthy earth. It’s a multi-pronged approach that aims to make active living and healthy eating “the easy choice.”

With funding through Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities (HKHC), the city expanded its work through the Healthy RC Kids project. Healthy RC Kids has the backing of partners such as the San Bernardino County Healthy Communities Program, San Antonio Community Hospital, Inland Empire United Way, Northtown Housing Development Corp., Claremont Graduate School, Loma Linda University, Lewis Housing Development Corp., and the Cucamonga, Central, Etiwanda and Chaffey School Districts. City leaders know that to develop and maintain a healthy RC requires authentic collaboration between government and the community, rather than a “top-down” approach.

A resident leadership program called Community Champions was established to build capacity and empower traditionally underserved Spanish-speaking residents to meaningfully engage in policymaking processes. Community Champions played key roles in influencing the adoption of the city’s farmers’ markets and community gardens ordinances. They also collaborated with city staff on a successful Safe Routes to School grant award. Modeled after the Community Champions approach, a Healthy RC Youth Leaders program was established to engage middle and high school youth in healthy eating and active living efforts.

Additional key HKHC accomplishments include adoption of a nutrition standards resolution that improves access to healthy foods at all city facilities, and a Complete Streets implementation ordinance that bolstered existing Community Mobility policies. This comprehensive ordinance was recognized by Smart Growth America and The National Complete Streets Coalition as one of the top 10 municipal policies in the nation.

One critical ingredient for creating lasting community change, according to Project Director Erika Lewis-Huntley, is that “It needs to be real. People may say things we don’t want to hear, they’ll be some tough issues to deal with, but in the end residents will have a sense of ownership because they’ve been part of the process and they’ll help to make it happen.”