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Letter: Efforts already underway to improve public health

Efforts already underway to improve public health

Data from the latest County Health Rankings place three Western New York counties among the bottom five in all of New York State. Niagara, for example, ranked 58 out of 62. The reasons for these poor rankings are numerous: social and economic factors like education; clinical factors like the number of primary care physicians in the region; and health behaviors like smoking.

But the poor rankings should inspire change rather than discourage us. In Niagara, efforts are underway to combat obesity, improve access to healthy foods and increase physical activity. The Field & Fork Network, for example, has established a wholesome foods pop-up market in Niagara Falls. Residents of Niagara Falls have mobilized to develop a Resident Engagement Council. Through the council, they are transforming vacant lots into homes for community gardens and pop-up parks. Key organizations have come together to develop a Food Plan for Action. And regionally, the Double Up Food Bucks program is helping residents in 11 counties across Western New York get more fresh, locally grown produce for the money they spend at local farmers markets.

It will take time for these types of initiatives to translate into healthier behaviors and better health outcomes. But change is happening, and setting Niagara on the path to better health.

David Sandman

President and CEO

New York State Health Foundation

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