Garfield County named Colorado’s healthiest community
On Thursday, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper announced Garfield County as the inaugural recipient of the Healthy Community Award, given to Colorado’s healthiest community. As this year’s winner, the county will receive $2,000 to further enhance its community wellness efforts, according to the press release.
“Providing equal access to healthy eating, active living and workplace wellness to all Coloradans is important for our communities and to our economy,” Hickenlooper stated in the press release. “The leadership and residents of Garfield County have worked hard to develop a comprehensive approach to health and wellness that addresses health disparities and leverages partnerships to reach their entire community. I am thrilled to congratulate Garfield County as the winner of the 2017 Healthy Community Award.”
The Governor’s Healthy Community Award was presented by the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International and LiveWell Colorado. Representatives of Garfield County were honored Thursday at LiveWell’s 2017 Healthy Eating Active Living Summit for their work.
“Our strong community collaboration across school districts, hospitals, businesses, public safety, education, public health and nonprofits drive us to overcome health barriers to reach our goals and better our community,” Dana Wood, Garfield Healthy Communities Coalition coordinator, said in the press release.
The county embraced health and wellness as an economic driver, states the press release, and created a cultural demand for healthy lifestyles by supporting local farmers, and expanding bike and pedestrian infrastructure — especially in areas with limited public transit and poor connectivity.
Garfield County’s work with dozens of organizations and nonprofits to provide resources and break down barriers so all residents have full and equal access to healthy lifestyle options is one of the reasons it was selected as this year’s winner.
The press release names community collaborations like the county’s incorporation of Cultivando, a leadership and advocacy group from Commerce City that offered a program in Spanish to train bilingual public health workers last February, as one example of the “county’s focus on disease prevention, healthy eating active living and health equity.”
It also referenced other health programs and initiatives that assist families and their children, including policy changes in school districts and Garfield County’s Meal Monkey, “a mobile school lunch program that provides nutritious foods and fresh fruits and vegetables to schools with high free and reduced lunch populations.”
In collaboration with LiveWell, Rifle’s Friday mobile lunch program which provides lunches to Rifle, Silt and New Castle students on Fridays, continues to grow in its third year. As of September, 3,100 meals had been provided to students on free or reduced lunch this year alone.
“Garfield County’s health efforts have shifted to an offensive approach by motivating people to change their lifestyles for the better. This influences a healthier workforce and healthier education system, which contributes to a healthier community,” Tom Jankovsky, Garfield County Commissioner said in the release.
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The awareness campaign aims to shine a light on the fact that hunger is a year-round struggle for more than 2,700 families that are served each month by LIFT-UP food pantries.