Health Rankings Spark Population Health Initiatives
The city situated a farmers' market within walking distance of the poorest neighborhoods. "We have to give access to healthier food. We can't expect people to eat healthier and be healthier if they don't have access to those foods. So a farmers market is one way to do that," Johnson says. "And you have to make sure your farmers market is in places that are within reach of your poorest communities, your underserved communities."
Customers can pay for their fresh produce using social assistance such as WIC and low-income senior vouchers. "Don't make your farmers market just something for people with money," Johnson says.
On other wellness fronts, city officials talked Renasant Bank into donating 40-acres of land that it was sitting on after a development deal flopped. The land will be used for a new park named after the bank.
"All across the nation banks are sitting on land they repossessed and they don't know what to do with it," Johnson says. "So I would suggest that all of these neighborhoods go out and ask a bank to give that land to your city to make it a park. You might even name that park after the bank."
The city got a $5,000 grant to build a bike path a half-mile long. Johnson says that's not a very long bike path, but "every little bit helps." The city is also working on ways to "get under the interstate so town is not literally divided in half for pedestrian use."
Johnson says the city is already enjoying a return on investment from its new wellness program for city workers. "Last year we were struggling to find a way to increase the pay of our city employees," he said.
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