Grants Look to Build Healthy Communities

Grants Look to Build Healthy Communities
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Fort Scott city commissioners hear a presentation Tuesday about a grant coming to Bourbon County to help build a healthier community. Bourbon and Crawford County are among 8 in the state chosen for the grant.

Grant Coordinator Jody Hoener says natural scenery and bike trails like those in Gunn Park, are a big reason Bourbon County now has access to the $315,000 in grant money.

“[It shows] we had things to build upon,” Hoener said.

The award from Blue Cross Blue Shield is meant for counties ranking in the bottom half of county health rankings, in Kansas.

“We’re looking at using the money towards things that are gonna be to create sustainable change,” Hoener said.

At the Fort Scott Farmers Market, R & B Produce vendor Ron Brown thinks, in Southeast Kansas, it’s just easier to be unhealthy.

“Too much access to the sugary foods at the convenience stores,” Brown said.

But it’s not the only factor Hoener and the grant will address.

“We want to remove barriers do that people can be healthy or they can choose the healthy choice,” Hoener said.

The grant focuses on 7 pathways to concentrate the money with individual action plans:
– Community Policy
– Community Well-Being
– Food Retail
– Health Care
– Restaurants
– School
– Work Sites

The counties will receive $100,000 split over two years. Another $215,000 can be accessed by reaching achievement benchmarks. Grant coordinators are already involving businesses and community leaders.

“More promotion of their healthy foods, more education, encouraging healthy workplace environments, fitness for employees. Things like that,” Lindsay Madison of the Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce said. “So we’re excited for the collaboration of the different sectors of the community.”

“Despite everything we do here in Bourbon County, several years has been in the bottom 10 percent of the county healthy rankings,” Hoener said. “So it’s gonna take a lot of thought and a lot of brainstorming to get together and think of things we can put in place that will make sustainable change, have meaningful outcomes, and will be measurable.”

The first step will be to coordinate community partners to figure out the county’s action plan. Grant coordinators will also conduct several surveys to assess how to best spend the money.