Written by The Business Journal Staff
One of Fresno’s poorest areas will be on the receiving end of a seven-figure initiative to improve the health of its residents.
At Thursday’s meeting the Fresno City Council unanimously approved an agreement with the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission (Fresno EOC) to implement the DAWN (Development Across West Fresno Neighborhoods) Initiative. Previously, the council approved reallocating $1 million from the Darling meat rendering relocation following a legal agreement reached by Concerned Citizens of West Fresno (CCWF), Darling Ingredients and the City of Fresno that requires Darling to shut down its operations by New Year’s Eve, 2023.
Odors from the rendering plant had long been a point of contention with residents of the community.
The DAWN Initiative will fund efforts to combat the coronavirus and underlying health conditions in West Fresno. General Fund Darling relocation set-aside and federal CARES Act funding will finance the initiative.
“This is one of many investments to correct injustices by addressing the immediate health needs of Covid-19 … and provide long term solutions to combat the health and environmental conditionals that result in disproportionate infant mortality rates for our African American babies in West Fresno,” stated Council President Miguel Arias.
Over five years, the Fresno EOC will work with the designated project partners to implement the initiative. DAWN aims to reduce infant mortality, preterm birth rates and environmental risk factors in West Fresno through workforce development, infrastructure improvements and the creation of a women’s clinic.
“Infant mortality rates are a snapshot of a communities’ health, highlighting existing inequities and illuminating opportunities,” said Dr. Venise Curry of the CCWF. “CCWF membership is pleased with the support of the Council to support these efforts.”