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Simon: Public health grants available until week's end 

The Southern
May 14, 2012

CARBONDALE — Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon is encouraging rural communities to apply for public health grants before the end of this week.

More than $3 million in We Choose Health program grants are being made available through Illinois Department of Public Health. The grants are for community projects that increase access to healthy foods, promote nutrition and physical activity, promote bike and pedestrian travel and create smoke-free environments.

Agencies such as health departments, governmental bodies, colleges, school districts, hospitals and other health-care providers, and community organizations can apply for the grants. A letter of intent must be submitted by Friday, with complete proposals due by June 15, and application information is available via a state website.

“I urge rural communities across the state to take advantage of these federal dollars,” Simon said in a statement. “A healthier state will help improve the quality of life in rural Illinois and lower health care costs.”

In the eligible counties, less than 20 percent of high school students say they eat at least five servings of fresh fruit and vegetables per day; lamost two-thirds of adults and more than 50 percent of adolescents don’t meet recommended physical activity guidelines; and about 20 percent of adults and adolescents smoke, according to IDPH.

“Chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, are leading causes of death, disability and rising health care costs,” IDPH Acting Director LaMar Hasbrouck said in a release. “But this is not something the health department, community organizations or health care can solve on its own. Similar to the proverb, it takes a village to raise a child, it will take all of us working together to reduce chronic diseases and help people live longer, healthier lives.”

Hasbrouck will be in Southern Illinois this morning, discussing public health issues with local officials at Jackson County Health Department.