Lake County WIC program awarded grant

LAKE COUNTY — This week, the District Health Department No. 10's Women, Infants and Children program was one of 15 local WIC agencies in the United States to be selected to receive a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grant.

The CDC says the purpose of this project is to create and carry out a community-driven plan to lower chronic disease through policy, systems and environmental change. This project will focus on two major risk factors of chronic disease: poor nutrition and lack of access to prevention resources. DHD10 will accomplish these goals by building a community coalition to oversee programs in the Lake County area.

"We want to establish this community coalition to address affordable and healthy food access in the Lake County area," said Meryl Smith, DHD10's WIC Coordinator. "We have people coming from county groups, businesses, local churches and other community members. As a group, we will decide which specific programs we will take on."

Several project activities will be enacted to help the community, including posting information in grocery stores, food pantries and restaurants, conducting a community needs assessment and launching a community action plan. Strategies also may include expansion of healthy food options in stores, expansion of local farmers markets or working with vendors to include nutrition information on products and displays.

The first community coalition meeting will take place at noon on Tuesday, April 12, at the Lake Osceola State Bank community room in Baldwin. A light lunch will be served at the meeting. DHD10 is inviting community stakeholders such as businesses, schools, churches, health care providers and consumers to take part in the meeting and contribute to the various projects which will result from this grant.

"We're hoping through the information we're putting out in the public, people will have better options for nutrition and more knowledge about how to choose wiser and healthier," remarked Smith. "DHD10 just did a similar program in Oceana County and it was very successful. We made some very good progress on these issues and we plan on continuing it there even as we start up these projects in Lake County."

The Lake County portion of the grant will run through June of 2017.

Those who are interested can contact Dennis Cosby at (231) 368-1054 or dcosby@dhd10.org by April 11, for more information.