Lighten Up Lancaster County Coalition

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Contact Information

Organization Information

Project Summary

In 2007, Lancaster General Health created the Lighten Up Lancaster County coalition to raise awareness about the health problems associated with poor nutrition, lack of physical activity, and obesity. Recognizing that obesity is a multi-faceted problem, the coalition brought together health care providers, schools, businesses, community organizations, and local government to create multi-faceted solutions. When the coalition began, we focused on educating the public about healthy eating and physical activity and creating high-quality programs to help people reach a healthy weight. Over time, the coalition has become more involved in creating policies, systems, and an environment that supports a culture of health. Currently, our priorities are building walkable & bikeable communities, improving school and workplace wellness programs, and increasing access to healthy food.

Project Goal

Lighten Up Lancaster County aims to increase the percentage of adults and children in Lancaster County at a healthy weight. In Lancaster County, 60% of adults, 40% of teens, and 36% of children are overweight or obese. We focus on decreasing the obesity epidemic by creating an environment that supports healthy eating and physical activity.

Promotional Methods

Over the years, we have used print, electronic, and visual communication strategies. At the beginning of the coalition, we attended many community events with our coalition mascot Crunch (a giant apple!) and offered promotional materials such as jackets, pens, t-shirts, and visors to build awareness of the brand. We have a website and more recently, we have focused on growing our social media presence on Facebook. We now have a large following (about 1,800 people) who regularly receive our bimonthly newsletter and weekly e-postcards with coalition updates. In person, we have action teams who meet regularly to discuss topics of interest, and we also have 4 all-coalition meetings each year. We continue to have a presence at community events that reach our target populations, such as conferences for workplace wellness providers and school wellness events.

Project Challenges

Lighten Up Lancaster County has experienced some of the traditional challenges of coalition-building: agreeing on common goals, engaging non-health sectors, having limited funding and staff, and cultivating new leaders to replace original leaders. The commitment from Lancaster General Health has been important for sustaining funding and paid staff to provide administrative "backbone" support to the coalition. Over time, through relationship building and common funding opportunities, we have formed partnerships with schools, planning professionals, housing, and social services. Receiving a Community Transformation Grant from the CDC in 2011 was very important for re-invigorating the coalition around a new set of goals, bringing new partners to the table, and aligning funding with common goals.

Project Results

The coalition members have created meaningful changes in the Lancaster County environment to support healthy eating and physical activity. We have 40 schools in Lancaster County with school gardens, and all 16 school districts in the county have been engaged with the coalition to develop wellness policies and create strong wellness programs. We began giving Well Workplace Awards to local businesses in 2010 and we now have 36 local businesses who annually complete the CDC Worksite Health Scorecard to evaluate and strategically expand their wellness programs. Working with local governments, we have completed 14 walkability audits to give local leaders specific advice about improving pedestrian infrastructure, and 4 municipalities have passed Complete Streets policies to ensure that their roads are safe for all users. The county planning commission provides training for Complete Streets, introduced Smart Growth Transportation funding that prioritizes bike/pedestrian improvements, and is currently developing a comprehensive bicycle and pedestrian plan. In 2013, we started a Healthy Corner Stores initiative with support from our local economic development agency and have recruited 25 corner stores in Lancaster City to expand their healthy offerings.

Organization Type


Types of Practices

  • Community

Target Age Ranges

  • All


  • All


  • All

Project Service Type

  • Awareness
  • Community Outreach / Community Engagement
  • Education / Training / Resource Development
  • Prevention

Project Content Area

  • Nutrition
  • Physical Activity

Project/Program Care Team Target Population

  • None

Counties Served

  • Lancaster

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