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Childhood Nutrition



Dedicated to raising a healthier generation by educating children and families

on healthy eating habits and the importance of fitness activities in their daily activities.

who is generation fit?

The Marion County Children’s Alliance (MCCA) recognized childhood obesity as a problem in Marion County and formed the Childhood Nutrition Workgroup in 2004 with funding from the PEP Grant. In 2010, the workgroup began to implement The White House Childhood Obesity Task Force Recommendation and Let's Move Campaign in an initiative called "Generation FIT". It consists of representatives from various Marion County children’s organizations and is chaired by Jessie Driggers, a health educator. We focused on the five pillars of The White House Childhood Obesity Task Force:

  • Childhood Nutrition
  • Empowering Parents & Caregivers
  • Healthy Foods in Schools
  • Access to Healthy, Affordable Foods
  • Increasing Physical Activity

In 2014, MCCA joined the Measure Up Marion Coalition. With an award from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to the Heart of Florida Health Center, Marion County Children’s Alliance is taking the lead for the Access to Healthy Food and Beverage portion of the $4 million award. Our goal is to create and support activities that promote healthy choices through policy, environment and system strategies. We use evidence-based, culturally inclusive interventions and strategies to create environments and promote policies that make it easier for people to choose healthier foods and beverages. 

Generation FIT’s role in Measure Up Marion is to:

  • Increase access to healthy foods away from home, including:
    • Vending machines
    • Concession stands
    • Restaurants
    • Farmer’s markets
    • Faith based communities
  • Train the Trainer
  • Teach community members and children how to identify healthy foods and beverages
  • Expand CATCH Kids curriculum program to early childhood learning settings, as well as continue the program in the extended day program at all Marion County Public Schools Elementary and 5 middle schools and afterschool programs like ED Croskey, Lillian Bryant, YMCA and Boys and Girls Club. The CATCH program aims to teach healthy behaviors, increase nutrition knowledge, and increased participation in structured physical activity. This grant ended in 2017. Some of the work continues in other areas.

The facts

Childhood obesity has become an epidemic in our community.

  • Studies show that approximately 1 in 5 children are overweight or obese by the time they reach their 6th birthday.

  • Marion County Health screenings for 2014-2015 school year revealed that revealed that 17.0% of the students screened were overweight and 20.8% were obese in regards to their Body Mass Index (BMI) for a total of 37.8% of the students

  • One report showed that 11.4% of low income preschool aged children are obese (city-data.com).

  • Studies show that the most pressing health problem in our local public school system is childhood obesity

  • Currently 67% of Marion County students are on free and/or reduced lunch meaning these children are at risk for undernourishment

  • Research reported by the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation suggests that poverty, hunger, and food insecurity contribute to obesity in complex ways




West Ocala Wellness Community Garden

Family Fun Day is an event that encourages education, physical activity and well-being.

Glo with the Flo 5K” is an illuminated run through downtown Ocala. In 2014, the premiere run had more than 400 participants and raised more than $10,000 for MCCA and the Drayton Florence Foundation. Aug 20th at 8pm




Jessie Driggers- Health Educator- Florida Department of Health jessie.driggers@flhealth.gov- (352) 644-2624

Community partners

Barrett, Liner & Buss

Bonding with Baby Lactation

Early Learning Coalition of Marion County

Florida Department of Health of Marion County

Heart of Florida

Marion County Hospital District- Active Marion Project (AMP) and Fitness and Nutrition in Schools (FANS)

Marion County Parks and Recreation

Marion County Public Schools Food & Nutrition Services