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The Plan4Health Austin project aims to increase physical activity through an active transportation encouragement program called Austin Smart Trips and to improve access to nutritious food through a neighborhood food systems planning effort. This is a place based initiative focused on North Central Austin led by the City of Austin in partnership with the Texas Chapter of the American Planning Association and the America Public Health Association.

The project aligns with the City of Austin’s 30 year comprehensive plan, ‘Imagine Austin’. The Austin Smart Trips program will help connect people with transit, walking and bicycling options by providing individualized travel training and information. The neighborhood food planning effort will help to map the entire food system of the priority community and create a toolkit of options for increasing access to healthy food.

The team is currently working on an in-depth outreach process to better collaborate with residents and organizations that live and work in the priority community to ensure that the project aligns with the community’s vision. This outreach effort will inform a mapping process to identify healthy food access and active transportation assets. Students from the University of Texas LBJ School of Public Policy will begin one-on-one stakeholder interviews about the area’s food system with residents, businesses and other stakeholders.

Materials are also being created to begin promoting active transportation to places where people live, work, and play. Active Transportation Options Teams will begin a community engagement phase in the fall to bring these resources to the community. This pilot project is expected to run through March of 2016 with the hope that both neighborhood food planning and active transportation encouragement programs expand to other parts of the city. For more information, visit http://www.plan4health.us/.