BUILD Health Challenge Recognizes Harris County Partnership as National Leader in Promoting Health

Pasadena Health Initiative Awarded $250,000
Posted on 06/09/2015


Pasadena Health Initiative Awarded $250,000
BUILD Health Challenge Recognizes Harris County Partnership as National Leader in Promoting Health

Improving Health Through a Sustainable Food System, a Pasadena initiative of Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services, the Houston Food Bank and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, was awarded a $250,000 grant from the BUILD Health Challenge, a national awards program, for its efforts to improve community health. The initiative, one of seven implementation grants funded nationally, emerged from partners’ work on Healthy Living Matters (HLM), a Harris County collaborative to curb childhood obesity.

The central goal of north Pasadena’s Sustainable Food System initiative is to develop a community-supported food system in order to eliminate conditions that lead to limited or uncertain access to adequate food, known as food insecurity.

“We know families are forced to make difficult choices between food and other essential needs like paying the rent, medical bills, utilities or buying groceries. This is why we are committed to partnering with strong community leaders where together we can address the conditions that cause food insecurity,” said Brian Greene, President and CEO of the Houston Food Bank.

The Sustainable Food System initiative focuses on an area of north Pasadena, where almost 1 in 5 residents live in food insecure homes. This is in part the result of higher poverty levels and inadequate sources of healthy food options. Economic, cultural, and educational factors affect many Pasadena residents’ ability to engage in healthy behaviors.

“Economic factors are a key driver of health,” said Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Executive Director, Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services, “and the Sustainable Food System initiative focuses on addressing complex, upstream problems that influence health.”

The conditions leading to food insecurity have also resulted in a disproportionate rate of obesity in this community. Obesity is a risk factor for several types of cancer, such as colorectal, liver, kidney and ovarian, as well as a number of other health issues, including heart disease and diabetes.

“Prevention and health promotion are integral to MD Anderson’s approach to eliminating cancer,” says Ernest Hawk, M.D., Vice President and Division Head, Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences at MD Anderson. “This initiative will promote healthy eating behaviors in line with our efforts to reduce the risk of cancer and other diseases.”

MD Anderson is participating through the cancer prevention and control platform of its Moon Shots Program, which harnesses established knowledge and new approaches to dramatically reduce cancer deaths through prevention, early detection and treatment.

The BUILD Health Challenge grant will allow north Pasadena’s Sustainable Food System to accelerate its efforts toward nutrition equity through:

  • Production: establishing a sustainable public source of accessible healthy food in north Pasadena
  • Distribution: developing an expanded local network of innovative food suppliers and distributors
  • Consumption: coordinating local programs and policies like Food Scholarships and the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription program (“FVRx”) to help community members access food and make healthy choices

“The City of Pasadena is proud to be a part of the Harris County BUILD Partnership,” says Richard Scott, Director, Community Relations, City of Pasadena. “We continue to work each day to improve our community health. The award of this $250,000 grant will be a step in the right direction to educate our citizens about health issues such as childhood obesity.”

“We are looking forward to the future of producing local foods that will be accessible to the public through a community supported agriculture campus,” says Scott. “We must all work together to improve the overall health of our local residents.”

The Harris County BUILD Health partners will host a local kick-off event for media and the public on Thursday, July 16th at 1:30 PM at Pasadena City Hall, located at 1211 Southmore Ave, Pasadena, TX 77502.

The event will offer opportunities to speak with partners and to learn first-hand about the “Sustainable Food System” efforts funded by this national program.


About Harris County Public Health & Environment Services
Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services (HCPHES) is the local public health agency for the Harris County, Texas jurisdiction. It is involved in a wide variety of public health activities aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of the Harris County community. For more information, please visit

About the Houston Food Bank
The Houston Food Bank is a solution to hunger in times of need. America’s largest and nationally recognized as Feeding America’s Food Bank of the Year, the Food Bank distributes 67 million nutritious meals through its network of 600 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and other hunger relief charities in southeast Texas, feeding 800,000 individual each year. The Houston Food Bank, founded in 1982, is a certified member of Feeding America, the nation’s food bank network, with a four-star rating from Charity Navigator. For more information, please visit

About MD Anderson
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston ranks as one of the world's most respected centers focused on cancer patient care, research, education and prevention. It is one of only 40 comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute. Since U.S. News & World Report began its annual Best Hospitals survey 25 years ago, MD Anderson has ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in cancer care every year. For more information, please visit

About the BUILD Health Challenge
The BUILD Health Challenge is a national awards program supporting “bold, upstream, integrated, local, and data-driven” (BUILD) community health interventions in low-income, urban neighborhoods. Founded by The Advisory Board Company, the de Beaumont Foundation, the Colorado Health Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the BUILD Health Challenge strengthens partnerships between local nonprofit organizations, hospitals and health systems, and local health departments to improve the health and well-being of their residents. For more information, please visit

Additional members of the BUILD Partnership are: CHI St. Luke’s Health, Memorial Hermann, Brighter Bites, CAN DO Houston, City of Pasadena, Neighborhood Centers Inc., Pasadena Health Center, and U.T. School of Public Health.

For more information, please contact Jennifer Hadayia: [email protected], Office: (713) 439-6269, Cell: (775) 544-3898.