Heart Healthy - Inside and Out
The Erie County Department of Health is working on several exciting new initiatives within the City and County to promote cardiovascular health, reduce obesity and encourage safe neighborhoods. As one of five grant recipients from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the Erie County Department of Health is implementing a Safe and Healthy Communities program.
Safe and Healthy Communities aims to encourage policy, systems and environmental changes that will make Erie a healthier place to live, work and play. Efforts such as Access to Healthy Foods, Bicycle Erie, Erie Walks, Healthy Foods Council, Let’s Move Outside! Recreational Passport Program, Safe Routes to School; and the encouragement of Active Living by Design and Smart Growth strategies are part of this exciting new program. A few of these efforts are highlighted below:
Eliminating “food deserts”—Over the course of the next few months, Safe and Healthy Communities is partnering with AmeriCorps VISTAS and the Erie Non-Profit Partnership to assess healthy food options available at local food retailers or corner stores in Erie. The goal is to assist owners with education, product placement and purchasing strategies to encourage the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables in areas that are designated as “food deserts” by the USDA. A food desert is a low-income census tract where a substantial number or share of residents has low access to a supermarket or large grocery store. Erie has three areas that are identified as food deserts. For more information about food deserts, visit the USDA website http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-desert-locator.aspx.
Promoting bicycling for transportation—Visit www.bicycleerie.org to keep up with what is going on in downtown Erie to promote Bicycle Friendly Businesses and how we can make Erie a Bicycle Friendly Community.
Encouraging Safe Routes to School—The Safe and Healthy Communities program is working with the Weed and Seed Health committee and Erie Together to promote Safe Routes to School. To learn more about what can be done to help make walking and bicycling to school safer, contact: Kim Beers, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Promoting health and safety—February is National Heart Month and National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Safe and Healthy Communities believes that when it comes to matters of the heart, it’s important to know there are credible resources available online and in the Erie community. National Heart Month has a wealth of information at the click of a button at: www.americanheart.org . Locally, the Erie County Department of Health has print materials available upon request. Topics include: heart healthy eating, physical activity, and stress reduction. Call 814-451-6700 to request single copies.
National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month promotes education and awareness to teens and those who care about them. The Erie region can learn more from Safe Net at www.safeneterie.org, where they have a page on their website especially for teens. If you are in Erie County Pennsylvania and need help, call (814) 455-1774. Outside of Erie County, call the National Domestic Violence Line at 1-800-799-7233 to find a program close to you.
This information is distributed by Erie County Department of Health, 606 W. 2nd Street, Erie, PA 16507, 814-451-6700, www.ecdh.org.
Kimberly Beers, CHES
Erie County Department of Health