Welcome to Hamilton County Step ONE

Step ONE (Optimize with Nutrition and Exercise) is a collaboration between the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department, the Hamilton County Mayor’s Office, and the Hamilton County Regional Health Council that was started in 2004. Our mission is “To create a culture of health in Hamilton County where residents choose to eat healthy and be physically active .” Since its inception, the program has evolved with the evidence-base while building partnerships with other government agencies, nonprofits, schools, local foundations, and residents to work toward accomplishing the mission.

You are encouraged to participate with Step ONE by eating healthier, being more physically active, and supporting your neighbors, family, friends, and co-workers with their efforts as well. 

For more information, call Step ONE at (423) 209-8090

Our Mission

To create a culture of health in Hamilton County where residents choose to eat healthy and be physically active.

Our Goals

  • To improve nutrition and increase physical activity thereby decreasing obesity among individuals residing in Hamilton County.
    • To educate the public in regards to the fitness and nutrition practices of Hamilton County residents and how those practices relate to the incidence of obesity in the community.
    • To promote and provide community wide opportunities which encourage all residents to participate in good nutrition, fitness and weight loss initiatives
    • To assist community partners in establishing nutrition, fitness and weight loss initiatives designed specifically to their target population.
  • To establish a strong organizational network of community partners which includes key leadership from government, area businesses, schools, and community based organizations.
    • To establish an organizational structure that will support a broad-based, community-wide initiative.
    • To identify key government, business, school and community based organization leaders and recruit them to partner with the Step One Program.
    • To organize work groups based on target population groups or affinity groups to develop strategies in support of the mission and goals of the program.
    • To support the implementation of the intervention strategies.
    • To evaluate the program's effectiveness in meeting its mission and goals.

Healthy Eating

Healthy eating is a vital part of healthy lifestyles. Not only do individuals need to have the knowledge about how to eat healthy, but their surroundings also need to support those choices. In some neighborhoods, the only access to food are corner stores and convenience stores.

Teaching Gardens

The Step ONE Teaching Garden Grant program is temporarily on hold as staff are redirected to the COVID-19 response. Step ONE is not accepting applications for the 2020-2021 year at this time.

Each year, Step ONE awards grants to applicants throughout Hamilton County who are interested in starting Teaching Garden Programs in their communities. The vision for the Teaching Garden Program is to create involvement and awareness to the connection between quality of diet and quality of health for children and their families. In addition, these gardens offer opportunities for people to learn valuable skills such as communication, responsibility, teamwork and leadership. These gardens are located throughout Hamilton County, and all applicants with a vision for improving nutrition and gardening education are considered.

To date, Step ONE has funded 62 teaching gardens. Locations include elementary, middle and high schools, Youth and Family Development Centers, childcare centers, churches, colleges, libraries and more.

If you are interested in learning more about the Step ONE Teaching Garden Grant program, please contact Renee Craig, Garden Grant Coordinator, at 423-209-8090 or reneec@hamiltontn.gov.



Little Sprouts Honey Bees Program for Pre-K 

The Step ONE Teaching Garden Grant program is temporarily on hold as staff are redirected to the COVID-19 response. Step ONE is unable to offer the Little Sprouts Honey Bees program for the 2020-2021 year at this time.

The Health Department’s Step ONE program has created an interactive pre-K educational activity using the honey bee to teach the importance of eating fresh fruits and vegetables. The Little Sprouts Honey Bees lesson teaches children the role of bees in gardens and their importance to our food system. The class also encourages physical activity as the children “buzz” around the classroom in a demonstration of how bees pollinate and communicate.

The Step ONE Teaching Garden program has long known that when children participate in the planting, cultivation, and harvesting of fruits and vegetables they are more likely to try them. The honey bee activity is an extension of this idea by bringing children and the garden plants together in a novel way.

Little Sprouts Honey Bees program is available free of charge to any Hamilton County early childhood education center and is appropriate for ages 3-5. For details call Renee Craig at (423) 209-8090, or visit the Step ONE website at HCStep1.org. 


Farmer's Markets

As spring ends and summer begins, be on the lookout for a wide variety of fresh produce and other foods produced by the farmers in our region. Hamilton County is fortunate to have several farms and farmers markets providing these healthful locally grown products to our community. 

Farmer's Market Resource Guide 2019



Active Living

Active Living is defined as a lifestyle that integrates physical activity into daily routines. Step ONE is committed to helping communities become more physically active. We collaborate with a wide range of organizations and government agencies on projects supported by research to increase physical activity of individuals.

Several recent studies have found that people who live close to viable parks engage in higher levels of physical activity than those who do not. Simply knowing where the closest parks and playgrounds are located can be the first step in getting you and your family more active together!

Open Use Policy

Step ONE lead the effort to implement an Open Use Policy. This policy states that all Hamilton County elementary school playgrounds may be used by the public after school hours and not conflicting with other aftercare programming.