Our industry has a long record of working with thought leaders on meaningful solutions to societal challenges such as obesity.  You might remember that back in January, Lima, Ohio Mayor David Berger won 1st place in the small city category at this year’s Childhood Obesity Prevention Awards – a program and partnership we formed with the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM).

On Wednesday, Mayor Berger accepted the grant for the program, “Cooking for Change,” which brings together high school students from the food management program at Lima Senior High School and the culinary arts program at Apollo Career Center to design a healthy eating initiative that helps to reduce obesity rates in Lima and Allen County.

“We know that the best and most creative solutions to many of our nation’s problems are born at the local level, and that’s why this partnership with the American Beverage Association was created,” U.S. Conference of Mayors CEO Tom Cochran said in a statement.

Mayor Berger emphasized that nutrition education is an important step towards learning good lifelong habits on balance.

“Our approach to improving our children’s health is to engage the entire community, first and foremost, the young people themselves,” Berger told The Lima News.

“In my experience, if you provide them with the tools and support, young people are pretty adept at coming up with creative strategies to solving their own problems,” said Berger.

We agree.  As Susan Neely, president and CEO of the American Beverage Association, explained: “Initiatives that engage young people in crafting creative strategies to promote their own health, rather than designing solutions for them, seems to work best.”

Obesity is a complex public health challenge that can’t be boiled down to one nutrient or product. That is why the beverage industry supports widespread efforts to educate people about balanced diets and give them information they need to make decisions that are right for them.

Congrats Mayor Berger and the City of Lima!  Click here to check out a short video about their innovative approach to community nutrition support and education.