County nabs health improvement grantGoodhue and eight other southeastern Minnesota counties will receive more than $2.7 million to help residents live healthier.
By: Jen Cullen, The Republican Eagle
Goodhue and eight other southeastern Minnesota counties will receive more than $2.7 million to help residents live healthier.
The Minnesota Department of Health has awarded 39 grants to help reduce the number of people who use tobacco or who are obese or overweight.
"We want to make it easier for people to be healthy," said Karen Main, Goodhue County Public Health Service director.
"This is not about new programs. This is to make our whole way of living more physically active and to eat healthy. Those are the sins in our epidemic of obesity."
The $47 million appropriation for the Statewide Health Improvement Program will cover 86 counties and eight tribal governments over the next two years through grants and technical assistance.
The program is part of Minnesota’s health care reform initiative signed into law last year.
“Minnesota is at the forefront of health care reform,” Gov. Tim Pawlenty said. “The Statewide Health Improvement Program will improve the health of Minnesotans and also help contain the spiraling costs of health care.”
The program tackles the top three causes of preventable illness and death in the United States — tobacco use, physical inactivity and poor nutrition — and takes a new approach toward prevention by creating sustainable, systemic changes that make it easier for individuals to make healthy choices in their daily lives.
Goodhue County — along with partners Dodge, Steele, Mower, Freeborn, Wabasha, Fillmore, Winona and Houston — will use the $2.7 million to plan, assess and implement changes in the coming months.
Community health boards and tribal governments applying for the grants chose from interventions effective in reducing tobacco use and exposure, and in improving physical activity and nutrition.
The interventions focus on four settings — schools, communities, worksites and health care.
"We really want to make the healthiest choice the easiest choice for people," said Susan Brace-Adkins, Goodhue County healthy communities director.
Instead of providing programs, Brace-Adkins said health officials will focus on ideas such as making city streets more accommodating for bikers and walkers or asking restaurants to include nutrition information on their menus.