Public Health

At MAPC, we integrate public health perspectives into our work: from planning projects to data collection and analysis to policy development. MAPC is on the forefront of linking health and planning to help make our communities safe, healthy, and equitable.

We seek to ensure that the region’s residents, whatever their income, education, or ethnic background, can live the healthiest lives possible. Through our work, we seek to increase access to open space, healthy food, and active transportation, to sustain violence-free communities with safe and stable housing, to support equal access to health services, and to limit exposures to pollution and environmental contaminants. Our work relies heavily on a Health in All Policies (HiAP) approach.


To learn more about MAPC’s public health services, please contact Barry Keppard, Director of the Public Health Division at or 617-933-0750


Promoting Smart Growth & Regional Planning

Public health

Our work

Through our work, we seek to increase access to open space, healthy food, and active transportation, to sustain violence-free communities with safe and stable housing, to support equal access to health services, and to limit exposures to pollution and environmental contaminants.

Healthy Community Design

The places where people live, work, play, gather, and move have significant impacts on their health. Healthy Community Design seeks to make healthy lifestyles accessible to all residents by fusing elements of planning and development (such as master plans, open-space planshousing plans, and transportation plans.) with health perspectives (such as active transportation, healthy food access, water quality, violence and injury prevention, and equity).

Healthy Community Design concepts heavily influence our health impact assessments and other work, including projects related to Complete Streets and Vision Zero planning. The Healthy Community Design Info Bank includes information on transportation and health, health impacts, health data, climate change, healthy aging, and more!

Health and Equity Assessments

The Health in All Policies (HiAP) approach requires tools to assess the potential effects policies, plans, programs, or projects will have on the health of a community, neighborhood, or other population. MAPC is a leader is using Health Impact Assessments (HIA), to assess the potential for changes to affect health disparities and inequities, raise awareness of potential health impacts of projects, and provide recommendations on promote positive health impacts. Learn more about MAPC's Health Impact Assessments.

In addition to HIA, the Public Health team has explored the use of other HiAP tools like the Health Lens Analysis (HLA), Health Impact Review (HIR), and Racial Equity Impact Assessment. The team continues to seek partners to apply these tools and make stronger health connections in planning and policy work.

Food Systems and Healthy Food Access

Affordable healthy food. Working farmland. Thriving food businesses. Sustainable fisheries. These are all vital to the health of communities and residents, and they’re aspects of a strong food system. MAPC’s Food System Planning looks at everything from farm and sea to plate (or compost pile). Led through the Public Health department, our work integrates land use, economic development, and the environmental perspective, helping municipalities determine their needs and identify plans and policies to promote healthier community food environments for all.

Check out our past and current food access projects, including the 2015 Massachusetts Food System Plan, on the Healthy Food Access page.

Local Public Health Collaboration and Shared Services

The Public Health Department at MAPC has worked with local health departments to explore opportunities public health collaboration and shared services across multiple municipalities. As local public health efforts look to meet demands and adapt to new conditions, staff and resources are often strained trying to meet vital regulatory and monitoring functions. We believe collaboration across municipalities can be one means to meet current demands and requirements while taking advantage of new possibilities to improve the health of communities and their residents.

Examples of this work include the North Suffolk Public Health Collaborative and the North Shore Public Health project. Check out our past and current collaborative projects on the the Public Health Collaboration page.

Public Health

Highlights of Current Projects

Municipal Strategies to Increase Food Access

This project presents a range of approaches municipal staff and board members, Mass in Motion Coordinators and community food advocates can utilize to improve food access in their towns and cities. MAPC produced this resource in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, the Massachusetts Association of Health Boards, and the Massachusetts Municipal Association. Report and Appendices

Food Policy

The Public Health and Government Affairs teams are advocating for the passage of legislation that will increase participation in SNAP and school breakfast programs and ensure sustainability in the state's incentives program for fresh produce purchases.

  • An Act Improving Public Health through a Common Application For Core Food, Health and Safety-net Programs. View written testimony.
  • An Act Regarding Breakfast in the Classroom.
  • An Act Establishing the Healthy Incentives Program.

Community Investment Tax Health Impact Assessment Credit

MAPC and others conducted a health impact assessment to inform the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development as it developed a new funding opportunity for community development corporations: the Community Investment Tax Credit Grant Program.

Understanding Community Health Needs Assessments in the Metro Boston region

MAPC is connecting with and learning from health care, public health, commuity based organizations, and other organizational partners about how to maximize efforts and outcomes from Community Health Needs Assessment in the Metro Boston region.

Healthy Neighborhoods Equity Fund Building Health Impact Assessment

This project is a $30 million private equity fund model that would consider the community, environmental, and health benefits of a proposed project as well as the financial risks and returns.


MAPC | Public Health Team