Working Together to Make Healthier Communities

Rural people eat less nutritious food , get less exercise and are more often obese that our urban counterparts. However, what gets less attention is the power of community in molding individual behavior.
The Center For Rural Affairs recent report - Healthy Communities-Healthy People (http://files.cfra.org/pdf/Healthy-Communities-Healthy-People.pdf ) - examines practical examples of initiatives involving grocery stores, local governments, schools, churches, and libraries that could help build the rural environments that assist individual behaviors that lead to longer, healthier lives.

Sadly, the health care reform debate has not focused enough on community-based initiatives to encourage healthier lifestyles among individuals, families and communities. The health care reform legislation approved by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee of the U.S Senate contains a provision to provide grants to communities to implement wellness and health promotion initiatives, which should be included in the final version of health care reform legislation.

However, many rural communities lack the resources for full-time staff to seek out federal grants, and, as a result, miss out on public funding because they are unaware of opportunities.  To make sure funds are targeted to the communities most in need, the report proposes that "circuit riders" should actively engage underserved, rural communities with public health concerns by going to them with information, financial assistance and a commitment to help.

Federal policy can assist rural Americans in creating healthier lifestyles by funding community initiatives that create, improve, or maintain an infrastructure that supports preventative behaviors like eating right and exercising.

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