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Cambridge, Massachusetts Tackles Childhood Obesity, One Mini-grant at a Time

As a participant of Let’s Move! Cities, Towns, and Counties (LMCTC), Cambridge, Massachusetts became part of a national movement to address childhood obesity by building healthy communities for a healthy future. City Manager Richard C. Rossi is leading this effort with city, public health, school, and community partners to improve the health and well-being of the city’s children; together, they are introducing healthier and tastier school lunches, fitness activities, and model nutrition policies.

Starting in 2012, the Cambridge Public Health Department and its partners began awarding $500 mini-grants to community organizations to promote healthy eating and physical activity. The city is using these mini-grants as a strategy to further Cambridge’s efforts to achieve the five goals of LMCTC

Josefine Wendel, Coordinator of Let’s Move! Cambridge, notes, “It takes a whole community to create a healthy city, so we are excited many Cambridge groups are committed to creating environments where the healthy choice is the easy choice.”

As a Let’s Move! Cambridge “mini-grant” awardee, Soccer Nights is a community initiative that brings together parents, volunteers, and children from different racial, economic, and cultural backgrounds to promote physical activity, leadership development, and unity. 

At the clinics, about 450 kids had a chance to practice new skills and learn about team-building while they played soccer. The mini-grant funded healthy snacks for two five-day soccer clinics for 6-to 12-year-old kids in Central Square and North Cambridge neighborhoods. The kids had fun making new friends and eating healthy foods. Parents reported that participation in Soccer Nights increased their kids’ desire for physical activity and likelihood of playing sports in the future.

Photos for Soccer Nights are courtesy of Doug Young from Chesley Photo.

Wendel notes that mini-grants are a great recipe for building sustainability around healthy eating and physical activity in a community. Partnering with invested community organizations, like Soccer Nights, also leverages a city’s ability to promote health and well-being within its community and change the environment to make the healthy choice the easy choice. The mini-grants helped move Cambridge to make significant progress in the LMCTC goals. 

This year’s mini-grant awardees will continue to shine a spotlight on healthy eating and physical activity to help make Cambridge a healthier city. 

To learn more about what Cambridge is doing to address childhood obesity visit:

To learn more about Let’s Move! Cities, Towns, and Counties and how to participate, visit