The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation announced today the 12 Louisiana programs that will be awarded grants through its Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana.

This statewide grant program, the first of its kind in Louisiana, aims to reduce the rising obesity rate across Louisiana by providing financial support to innovative partnerships that promote healthy eating and active living.

The 12 programs will receive $10.2 million in Foundation grants, which have sparked $16.8 million in matching funds from other community organizations. As a result, the Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana is putting $27 million into programs that improve the health of Louisiana communities.

Following are the 12 projects receiving awards, selected from 49 grant applications throughout the state:

  • Fresh Beginnings in Baton Rouge, which will receive $1 million to improve 61,000 residents’ access to supermarkets and other outlets for fresh food.
  • The Capital Area Pathways Project and Mobile Playground in Baton Rouge, which will receive $1 million to build a four-mile trail and introduce a mobile recreation program.
  • Healthy Living Club in Lafayette, which will receive $1 million to add playground facilities, community gardens and faith-based fitness teams for two communities.
  • Live Lively LaSalle!, which will receive $1 million for initiatives from building skate parks and basketball courts to adding healthy items to restaurant menus.
  • West End Health and Wellness Project in New Iberia, which will receive $1 million to open a fresh seafood and farmer’s market in the city’s West End.
  • Fit NOLA Project in New Orleans, which will receive $999,991 to connect residents in three neighborhoods with underused parks and provide vouchers for fresh fruits and vegetables at area farmer’s markets.
  • Ouachita Well in Monroe, which will receive $999,716 to help communities start programs for healthy eating and active living.
  • Generation K in New Orleans, which will receive $925,276 to develop two community hubs that engage children in physical activities and nutritional programs.
  • Dare to Be Healthy in Lake Charles, which was awarded $759,977 for new sidewalks, biking and walking trails, community gardens, health education and other programs for children and adults.
  • Healthy Green and Into the Outdoors Obesity Prevention Project in Shreveport, which will receive $588,485 to provide health education to children and teach families to sustain gardens and orchards.
  • Central Louisiana Local Food Initiative in Alexandria, which will receive $500,000 to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables while enhancing opportunities for local farmers.
  • Growing LA in New Orleans, which will receive $440,000 to build a 1.5-acre community garden to make fresh fruits and vegetables more accessible to low-income residents.

“These 12 programs are precisely the kind of transformational, collaborative efforts that the Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana was designed for,” says Christy Reeves, director of the Foundation. “The grants are enabling multiple organizations to combine their resources, working together at the community level to create environments that encourage healthy lifestyles.”

Throughout the funding period, which begins Sept. 1, the Blue Cross Foundation will work with Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge to administer the grants and measure their effectiveness, helping to reduce obesity in Louisiana communities. The progress of the programs will be posted at

The Challenge Grant Program is estimated to impact more than 1.7 million adults and children in Louisiana.

About the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation is building a healthier Louisiana through community outreach and charitable giving. In addition to the Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana, the Foundation has two signature programs: The Angel Award®, an annual recognition of outstanding Louisiana volunteers who improve the quality of life for at-risk children, and Smart Bodies®, a school-based program to prevent childhood obesity. Blue Cross also contributes nearly $2 million annually to various nonprofit organizations throughout the state that contribute to health, education and the overall quality of life in Louisiana communities. The Foundation is funded solely through Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana

Founded in New Orleans in 1934, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is the oldest and largest Louisiana-based health insurance company. Blue Cross is a private, fully taxed mutual company, owned by policyholders—not shareholders—and governed by a local Board of Directors. It is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

The company and its subsidiaries provide group and individual health insurance plans, life and disability insurance, group voluntary products and administrative services to more than one out of every four Louisiana residents. With headquarters in Baton Rouge and eight district offices, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana employs nearly 2,000 Louisianians who are committed to improving the lives of its customers by providing them with health guidance and affordable access to quality care.

Learn more on the company’s website at or on Facebook at Follow Blue Cross on Twitter at and CEO Mike Reitz at