South San Francisco earns ‘livable’ award

Mayors from across the country recognized South San Francisco as one of the most “livable” cities in the U.S. on Monday.

Mayor Rich Garbarino and Recreation and Community Services Director Sharon Ranals accepted an Outstanding Achievement award for a city with fewer than 100,000 residents in implementing programs that create a better quality of life.

The award went to South City for its preschool program that focuses on healthy eating and living for kids and families. Roughly 25 percent of children, or 4,900, in San Mateo County are obese, according to the county’s 2006 Blueprint for the Prevention of Childhood Obesity.

South San Francisco was joined by three other cities in the U.S. to receive such an award, selected by the U.S. Conference of Mayors. South City officials were pleased with the recognition, saying it is important to teach healthy lifestyle habits to kids.

“When you’re 70 years old, it’s a little too late to learn these things,” Garbarino said.

Targeting children ages 2 to 5, the city’s FRESH program — fitness, recreation, education, socialization and health — has educated roughly 300 students and families since it began in 2005, Ranals said. The program is funded by annual $30,000 grants from Kaiser Permanente.

Ranals said the city will expand its program to an additional 100 preschool and kindergarten students for the city’s before- and after-school program. Only preschoolers attending Westborough Preschool or Siebecker Pre-School were previously eligible for FRESH.

Nutrition workshops, cooking classes, parent and child exercise classes and a gardening program make up the FRESH program. One aspect of the program teaches students to count servings of fruits and vegetables and record the information on a classroom worksheet.

“The whole idea is to target younger kids to head off issues with obesity early,” she said.

dsmith@examiner.com


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