Education, vouchers and medical support offer three ways to impact chronic disease and obesity

Sustained healthy changes will reduce risks and help those with conditions better manage them.

The Alcona Health Center is partnering with Health Department Districts 2, 4 and 10, Thunder Bay Health Center, physicians, Michigan State University Extension and local retailers/markets to bring 6 weekly educational sessions and vouchers for fruit and vegetables to residents of northeast rural Michigan. The nine-county (Cheboygan, Presque Isle, Montmorency, Alpena, Alcona, Iosco, Oscoda, Ogemaw and Crawford) project is funded by a two-year grant and hopes to reach hundreds of residents.

MSU Extension expects to reach 360 participants across the region through 36 classes between May and December (2016) alone, making the total potential reach of over 900 residents in a two-year period. U.S. Department of Agriculture, through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education, will partially fund classes for participants receiving Department of Health and Human Services state benefits. All sessions will be no cost to residents in those counties.

The primary goals are to increase fruit and vegetable consumption and encourage consistent physical activity. Increasing access and support are anticipated to impact participants’ ability to sustain changes in healthy eating and physical activity. Evaluations at the first and last class will be used to verify change and success stories will be captured.

Health rankings and realities of pre-diabetes, diabetes, heart disease and obesity in this region of the state revealed the need for a new coordinated effort to reach high-risk patients with resources. Sustained healthy changes will reduce risks and help those with conditions better manage them. 

Over time, the partners involved in this project will be following health rankings to see if individual lifestyle changes are impacting the amount of preventable chronic disease in each county.

Physicians, physician assistants and nurses will begin making referrals in April and continue through 2017. Please, contact Denise Thompson, Wellness Program Manager, at the Alcona Health center or (989) 736-9871 to learn more or to register.

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