By Tina Dirmann

BCBSLAF Staff Writer

In this season of giving thanks, we wanted to give some of our Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana project leaders and friends an opportunity to share a few reasons to be grateful for healthy changes taking place in our communities across the state.  Below is just a sampling of the impact we’ve had, thanks to the initiatives we’ve supported for the past two years…

And we want to share a “thank you” back to those who put in all the effort to make these big ideas realities. We are grateful to you and all the hard work you do.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

The Challenge Grant Team!
The Challenge Grant Team!

Fresh Beginnings, Red Stick Mobile Farmers Market“If not for the Challenge Grant, Iberia parish would not be continually recognized as a leader and innovator of high tech food production while employing over 600 vertical towers to grow nearly 15,000 plants across our parish, all year long!” — Marti Harrell, West End Healthy & Wellness

“If not for Challenge Grant, then 2,000 children living or attending school in the Gentilly section of New

It's a family affair! Lancon's kids dig in to work the greenhouse.

Orleans would not have a safe public place to play on Saturdays.” — Mat Schwarzman, Great Resources WhereY’at (GR0W)

“If not for the Challenge Grant, then obesity prevention would not be on Shreveport’s health promotion agenda.” — John Peter Bunch, Healthy Green and Into the Outdoors

“If not for the Challenge Grant, then 200-plus women in Calcasieu Parish would not have lost more than 2000 pounds and 1800 inches, thanks to our Free educational,exercise and jump start program The K.I.S.S. Project.” — Sharmita Rideau, leader of the Keep It Simple Sister weightless program under Dare to be Healthy

West End, Delcambre seafood and farmers market         growinglocalnolabannersmall

“If not for Challenge Grant, Central Louisiana would not be conducting a study for the development of a regional food hub through a grant from the USDA.” — John Dean, Central Louisiana Local Foods Initiative.

“If not for the Challenge Grant, more than 1000 people would not have had access to a wide range of life changing classes on health supportive cooking, urban

Inside the new greenhouse, packed with rows of super productive hydroponic plant towers.

farming and more!” Marianne Cufone, Growing LA

“If not for the Challenge Grant, then 15,194 pounds per month of healthy foods including fruits, veggies and non-sweet items would not reach 460 households or 995 individuals in Lafayette.” Joan Landry, Healthy Living Club.   HGIO Youth Corps

“If not for Challenge Grant, over 13,700 linear feet of sidewalks (providing connections to parks, schools and shopping in low-income, older Lake Charles communities) would not have been completed in Calcasieu Parish.” — Janice Ackley, Dare to be Healthy. 

…Keep up all the great work, everyone! We’ve still got a year to go. Can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store.




This is how you pick a carrot! Emily Watts, 3, enjoys her Highland neighborhood’s new community garden.

Nutrition on Wheels truck complete! Rolling through Central LA soon.



Ribbon cutting ceremony launches Tullos Farmers’ Fest. Let the fruit and veggie sales begin!