Lebanon County agencies awarded grant to promote healthy lifestyles among Hispanic community

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Lebanon County agencies have been awarded four million dollars to decrease obesity by increasing access to nutritious food in the Hispanic community. 

“We do have a high obesity problem within our community,” said Jeanne Arnold, a creator of Better Together Lebanon County. 

Better Together Lebanon County is trying to change that. 

The group of dozens of local agencies and hospitals says 65% of Lebanon city residents are Hispanic.

This fall, the organization and Penn State Hershey Pro Wellness received the grant from the CDC to promote healthy lifestyles.

“A lot of the help that we’re going to be getting through this grant is to offer bilingual services and basically have community navigators,” said Arnold. 

Bilingual support will be added to local breast-feeding and diabetes prevention programs. 

Part of the grant will go toward providing better access to healthy foods, in ways like bringing the healthy corner store initiative to Lebanon. 

“Particularly in the city, many of the population does access food in the corner stores, so this initiative will make sure there is accessibility with healthy foods and nutritious foods that meet certain nutritional guidelines,” said Vicki DeLoatch, the vice president of finance and marketing at Lebanon Family Health Services. 

The money will also be used to encourage physical activity.

“Making sure there are safe walking paths and locations for individuals to walk,” said DeLoatch. “Also raising awareness about what exists.”

Better Together got started three and half years ago. It continues to grow through collaboration. 

“My husband and I are big donors for the Boy Scouts of America and I was asked to lead a task force on childhood obesity,” said Arnold. 

The money will also be used in Berks County. 

Organizers say community members can expect to see changes in the next few months. 

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