On February 7, 2018, the Indio City Council adopted the League of California Cities’ Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Cities Campaign to demonstrate the City's commitment to reduce and prevent obesity, and promote healthier lifestyles.
In 2004, the League of California Cities adopted an annual conference resolution to encourage cities to embrace policies that facilitate activities to promote healthier lifestyles and communities, including diet and nutrition and adoption of city design and planning principles that enable citizens of all ages and abilities to undertake exercise. The HEAL Cities Campaign grew from a commitment between the League of California Cities, Institute for Local Government, Cities Counties and Schools Partnership, and Pubic Health Advocates.
Since then, thousands of cities in California have been designated as a “HEAL” city, including five of the nine cities in the Coachella Valley - Desert Hot Springs, Palm Springs, Cathedral City, La Quinta and Coachella. In November 2017, the Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau (GPSCVB) reached out to the City of Indio to encourage it to adopt a HEAL resolution so it could be included in its Health and Wellness campaign. The GPSCVB indicates that wellness tourism is a $563 billion industry and an international wellness tourist spends 61% more than an average international tourist.
The HEAL Cities Campaign focuses on three policy areas – employee wellness, access to healthy foods, and land use. Cities must adopt a resolution and policies encouraging physical activity and good nutrition to become a HEAL city. The City of Indio has already adopted policies and supported initiatives to become eligible.
For instance, Indio participates annually in the United Way’s Workplace Wellness Challenge, where it won first place among other Coachella Valley cities in 2017. Indio has demonstrated its commitment to healthy eating and food access by applying for a farmer’s market grant through the United States Department Agriculture in 2016, and permitting grocery stores offering fresh fruits and vegetables. Indio has improved streets and sidewalks to encourage walking and biking, and supports the $76 million CV Link project. It is also currently developing a Safe Routes to School Master Plan, conducting a Multi-Modal Feasibility Study, and creating a five-mile hiking trail in the northern part of the city. Indio will also be incorporating the HEAL Cities goals into the new General Plan.
For more information about the HEAL cities program, go to http://www.healcitiescampaign.org/.