The University of Illinois at Chicago’s Midwest Latino Health Research, Training and Policy Center has received a $850,000 grant to address health disparities in Chicago.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention awarded the one-year grant, which builds on previous funding to UIC’s Center of Excellence in the Elimination of Disparities to help reduce diabetes and cardiovascular disease among Latino and African-American populations in the Chicago area.
The UIC center “is working to ensure that food contributes to health among Latinos and African Americans rather than to chronic diseases,” says Sheila Castillo, associate director of the Midwest Latino Health Research, Training, and Policy Center and principal investigator on the grant.
The UIC center is one of 18 grantees addressing health disparities nationwide.
Castillo said the UIC center has built a coalition of businesses, institutions, and individuals dedicated to changing social factors underlying health disparities.
“We are looking to change policies and systems that will result in changes in the environment, so that there is more access to healthy food,” she said.
Castillo said the center focuses on increasing the equitable distribution of healthy food and increasing health literacy, but also funds community projects. The center provided grants to organizations operating in the Pilsen, Englewood, Humboldt Park, Roseland, Austin, and Logan Square neighborhoods of Chicago.
“Through our work to increase health literacy, we will increase demand for healthier food — and through our work to increase the equitable distribution of healthy food, we will increase supply,” she said.
In 1999, the CDC announced the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health 2010 (REACH 2010) Initiative. UIC, in partnership with community-based organizations, received a five-year grant to address diabetes disparities in Southeast Chicago and also collaborated with the Chicago Department of Public Health to address cardiovascular disease disparities in the North and South Lawndale areas. In 2007, UIC received a REACH U.S. grant that supported the creation of national centers of excellence in the elimination of disparities and the continuation of community initiatives.
UIC ranks among the nation’s leading research universities and is Chicago’s largest university with 27,000 students, 12,000 faculty and staff, 15 colleges and the state’s major public medical center.