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Buffalo selected for Invest Health cities program

Buffalo is one of 50 mid-sized cities selected for a national program that brings together leaders from the economic-development, academic and medical sectors to try to improve health in low-income neighborhoods.

The Reinvestment Fund and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation selected Buffalo and 49 other cities, including Rochester and Syracuse, from more than 180 teams from 170 communities that applied to the Invest Health program.

Invest Health is open to cities with populations between 50,000 and 400,000 and is meant to find sustainable, multidisciplinary solutions to the chronic causes of poor health in those communities.

In Buffalo, the five-member team that will participate in the program includes representatives from the City of Buffalo, Erie County Medical Center, the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation, the University at Buffalo and the P2 Collaborative of Western New York.

The program brings with it a small, undisclosed amount of funding to pay for travel to conferences to highlight best practices in other cities, said John Craik, P2’s executive director.

Invest Health is meant to bring a focus on access to affordable housing, places where adults can exercise and children can play, nutritious food, good-paying jobs and other non-medical factors that can drive good health in a community.

In Buffalo, as one example, the Invest Health team will work together to create a self-sustaining, long-lasting food-hub business where produce can be grown and sold nearby, Craik said, creating jobs in the process.