New staff begin work on childhood obesity project

Oct 1,2012
As part of a three-year, $448,334 grant received by Samaritan Health Services (SHS) and Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital (SNLH) from the Health Resources and Services Administration to implement a new childhood obesity program, four part-time staff members have been hired and are beginning work in Lincoln and east Linn counties.

The program is called Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH), and is an evidence-based childhood obesity prevention effort that is proving highly effective in increasing physical activity levels and improving eating behaviors among children. Implemented already in more than 8,500 schools across the nation, CATCH is an in-school, after-school and early childhood  program that promotes healthy behaviors by bringing effective curriculum into the classroom, physical education classes, the cafeteria and the home. For example, organizations that become part of CATCH serve healthier meals at lunch time and also teach about nutrition during meals. The program will be implemented in 14 schools in Lincoln and east Linn counties, four after-school programs, and the Samaritan Early Learning Center in Lincoln County. Approximately 4,000 students will be reached.

The grant will be administered through SNLH, a founding member of the Coast to the Cascades Community Wellness Network, a consortium of health-focused community partners. A portion of the program funding has been used to hire the four part-time staff members. Marilyn Kennelly has been hired by Samaritan as the CATCH program director, and will be based out of SNLH. Daniel Roberson has been hired by the SHS Center for Health Research and Quality to assist with the research component of the program. Two part-time coordinators will serve the two counties, and are employed by local service organizations. Grace Rieke will serve as coordinator in east Linn County and is employed by the Lebanon School District. Toby Winn will serve as the coordinator in Lincoln County and is the executive director of Neighbors for Kids in Depoe Bay.

“This is community development at its best,” Kennelly said. “It is exciting that the staff work for different entities with the same mission. It is an innovative way to make this truly a community project right from the beginning.”

For more information about the CATCH program, contact JoAnn Miller, director of Community Health Promotion for Samaritan, at 541-451-6939 or