Today, Florida Department of Health announced the 80 communities recognized as 2016 Healthy Weight Community Champions, including communities in the Hendry, Glades and Lee county areas. The recognition program highlights local government efforts to increase physical activity and improve nutrition as part of Healthiest Weight Florida.
Examples of criteria for the recognition include whether a jurisdiction maintains a system of parks, provides incentive programs to attract grocery stores to underserved neighborhoods and prioritizes personal safety in areas where people can increase physical activity.
Glades County is partnering with Goodwheels to provide public transportation from rural communities to Okeechobee Publix and Walmart locations, as well as local farmers markets, increasing access to fresh produce.
"It's a great honor to be named a Healthiest Weight Community Champion," said Commissioner Tim Stanley, Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners. "We could not have done it without a tremendous amount of help from our community partners in Glades County."
Hendry County participated in the Healthier Me campaign, which promotes weighing less by participating in more physical activity. Additionally, the school district adjusted their menus to align with national guidelines.
"We are thrilled to be named a Healthiest Weight Community Champion," said County Administrator Charles T. Chapman, IV. "We hope the Healthier Me campaign is just the first step toward helping all citizens of Hendry County embrace a healthier lifestyle."
LeeTran has had a three year increase of 35 percent in ridership and has updated bus stop locations using grant funding amenities such as shelters with solar powered lighting and (where spacing permits) a trash receptacle and bike racks. Currently, LeeTran has completed approximately 37 upgrades (out of a total of 50) to bus stops, with more locations being selected.
"Being named a Healthiest Weight Community Champion is something that could not happen without all residents in Lee County making the decision to be healthy," said Stephanie Figueroa, Human Resources Director for Lee County. "We are looking to continue our efforts in to 2016."