Local counties receive $1 million grants for healthier living - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Local counties receive $1 million grants for healthier living

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NORTH CENTRAL WISCONSIN (WAOW) -

Several counties in our area are fighting back against childhood obesity, and they'll have almost $1 million to arm them in that battle.

Portage, Wood and Marathon Counties will soon be seeing green, in an attempt to make central Wisconsin communities a healthier place.

The numbers can be alarming. By high school, Wisconsin Department of Health studies show close to a quarter of students are overweight or obese.

More than 60 percent of those will be like that as adults.

"The next generation is the first generation that is likely to live shorter than their parents and we can do something about that," Health First Wisconsin Executive Director Maureen Busalacchi said.

That's where Transform Wisconsin comes in, which receives money as part of the Affordable Care act, to help prevent that trend from continuing. The fun has awarded $1 million to communities right here in North Central Wisconsin.

"We want what's best for Central Wisconsin," Kristie Rauter, with the Wood County Health Department said.

Each county may be using the money in different ways, but it's all the same goal—make Wisconsin healthier and encourage children to eat smarter.

Wood, Portage and Marathon Counties are each using some of the money for Farm to School programs.

"Central Wisconsin farmers can feed central Wisconsin kids," Rauter said.

That helps bring food straight from the farm to the cafeteria.

"Farm to School is a win-win for both schools and farmers. Kids can eat fresh produce that's minimally processed," Rauter said.

Marathon County will also use some of its money to stop second hand smoke.

"If one person smokes, everybody smokes. Work with landlords to see what they can do to protect people from second hand smoke," Judy Burrows, Marathon Co. Health Dept. Program Director said.

No matter which county, heath leaders agree—it's about forming healthy eating habits as young as possible.

"The big idea here is to make sure that our communities are healthier and really moving the dial—reducing our obesity rates, especially around children," Busalacchi said.

Those counties in our area weren't the only ones to cash in. All together, 30 communities in our state received grants through Transform Wisconsin, totaling more than $6 million. 

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