Local health department to launch healthy eating initiative – The Herald Bulletin

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ANDERSON — The Madison County Health Department has decided to partner with Second Harvest food banks to give local residents healthier food options.

Madison County ranks 48th in obesity rate among Indiana’s 92 counties, with more than 46% of its adults classified as overweight or obese. Obesity is a common contributor to chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

Fighting chronic disease is a priority of Indiana Health First, an initiative started by Gov. Eric Holcomb in 2023 to bolster local public health efforts.

Fitting in with that initiative, the local health department’s collaboration with Second Harvest is slated to begin in 2025.

Dr. Lindsay Weaver, Indiana’s health commissioner, said during a meeting Monday that the program would be “wildly successful” as many Hoosiers are wanting to eat healthier.

Two new employees will be hired to assist with the program. The positions will be paid for with Health First funds and will need to be approved by the Madison County Council, according to Stephenie Mellinger, administrator for the health department.

The program will begin in Elwood, which has only a Dollar General Store as an affordable grocery option for its predominantly low-income demographic.

Giving out produce is half the battle. Another component is knowing how to cook it. A lot of people who receive vegetables might not know how to cook them, according to Tiffany Denton, the health department’s outreach coordinator.

Cooking instructions and easy recipes will be provided with the produce. The department is also considering providing participants with air fryers, which cook foods with minimal grease.

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