State grant program aims to promote health in rural areas

Home E CES Stories E State grant program aims to promote health in rural areas
Article Author: Fran Ryan
Publication Name: Hampshire Daily Gazette
Article Date: 1/10/2019
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NORTHAMPTON — A new program will provide nearly $3 million to organizations focused on improving the health of individuals, families and communities by addressing issues such as nutrition, safe housing, violence prevention, and substance abuse, Attorney General Maura Healey announced Tuesday.

The Collaborative for Educational Services, working together with 10 other partner organizations, including the Hilltown Community Health Center, Hilltown Community Development Corp. and the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, will receive $149,818 annually for two years through the “Social Determinants Partnership Program.”

That funding will help the partnership address inequities in the food system, specifically in the Hilltowns, by designing and implementing a distribution system that connects underserved community members to healthy, affordable produce.

“We are trying to address a long-standing issue around transportation and food distribution in the Hilltowns,” said Sarah Bankert, program manager of Healthy Hampshire at the Collaborative for Educational Services in Northampton.

Bankert said residents in the hilltowns who are low-income, elderly or disabled often have limited or no access to fresh, healthy foods.

She noted that while things like farmers markets work in more urban and suburban areas, they may not be as useful in areas that lack larger populations with easy access to transportation.

“We are trying to work on this at the systems level and that requires having different partners working together,” Bankert said.

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