February 19 2014
JUNEAU –The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) will lose funding from the Federal Government for its Community Transformation Grant (CTG) program after September 30, 2014. The omnibus budget signed by the President did not include funds for Community Transformation Grants.
The Community Transformation Grants (CTG), which used funds from the Affordable Care Act, supported public health efforts to reduce chronic diseases, promote healthier lifestyles, reduce health disparities and control health care spending. Nationally, the grants have been to focus on three priority areas: tobacco-free living; active living and healthy eating; and evidence-based quality clinical and other preventive services, specifically prevention and control of high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Students enjoy tacos made with local fish, as a result from a CTG grant.
While this development is in no way a negative reflection of SEARHC or the CTG program as a whole, it is disappointing to the organization as well as the communities that relied on these grants to help make relevant changes their communities over the past three years.
In 2013 alone, the Community Transformation Grant program made seven sub-award grants worth $95,000 to community groups in Southeast Alaska interested in improving the health of their communities. They included expanding education for worksite breastfeeding initiatives, developing ways to increase access to local produce and seafood, developing school nutrition curricula around fruits and vegetables while strengthening the local school garden, allowing volunteers to take the lead on connecting health- and human-service-related organizations, and assisting to develop a new school nutrition practice that requires scratch-cooked, healthier meals for students.
In 2014, five sub-award grants worth $83,000 were awarded to Southeast Alaska communities. Those grants went toward programs such as initiating new school physical activity curricula, creating a school based nutrition practice that builds on school garden and greenhouse resources, strengthening the “Fish to School” initiative, implementations of a nutrition curriculum for more than 600 Headstart students, and expansion of school gardens.
It is important to note that all CTG staff members have been reassigned into other grant-funded programs at SEARHC. Their skills easily fit the needs of other departments and were able to fill open positions.
The program is fully funded through September 30, and Grant Manager Martha Pearson will remain in place at least through that date to oversee the effort of the CTG work currently underway.
In the meantime, SEARHC is continually looking at alternative funding sources for disease prevention programs and will pursue them as they become available.