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Community Story

The Power of Community Partnerships

Food systems Massachusetts


October 10th, 2019


When a mother brought her 13-year-old daughter to the health clinic with concerns about her dramatic weight gain, Dr. Renee Boynton- Jarrett wasn’t quick to prescribe a solution. Instead, she pulled out a growth chart to help the mother pinpoint when her daughter’s health began to change. After Dr. Boynton-Jarrett asked a couple of questions, the mother realized her daughter’s weight gain began one month after her father was incarcerated. From there and together, they created a plan to address it.

Dr. Renee Boynton-Jarrett talks about the importance of listening to and partnering with the members of her community to build and support a culture of health.

“Everything around how a child grows and develops, what their ultimate life chances are, and chance for health and well-being, is intricately and inextricably connected to their family and community environments. If we present opportunities for people to own what health and well-being look like in their communities, they will take that opportunity and transform lives. ”

Dr. Renee Boynton-Jarrett, Pediatrician and Social Epidemiologist at Boston Medical Center

This exemplifies Dr. Boynton-Jarrett’s approach to care, serving as a listener and facilitator. It illustrates what she believes to be true: that we cannot continue to address childhood obesity reactively. Rather we must address its root causes: severe inequities that plague our underserved communities and leave families without access to healthy affordable foods, safe neighborhoods, safe streets, and opportunities for physical activity.

Renee believes that the answers for addressing childhood obesity lie within individuals and communities themselves. Together with local partners, she’s helping more families have access to healthy foods. There are healthy food trucks, nutrition and cooking classes for expectant mothers, and gardens both in the community and at the hospital itself for neighborhood parents.

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