County’s SHIP comes in
A Public Health Program is primed to sail forward after support from the county board.
Following a strong showing of backing from the community, the board voted to once again apply for the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP).
Though many people don’t know the ins and outs of SHIP, the grant funding has contributed to many projects around the county. SHIP funds were used to buy snack carts that feature healthy food at area elementary schools, purchase no smoking signs after Riverland Community College went smoke-free, place bike racks at 12 sites and help support Hy-Vee’s garden, among many other projects.
Along with snack carts, SHIP funds have also helped purchase vegetable steamers and new coolers at LeRoy-Ostrander Public School and at Austin schools.
“Steamers are a great, great addition to our school,”said Mary Weikum, director of Nutritional Services at Austin Public Schools.
SHIP funds are used to reduce spiraling health care costs by addressing factors like smoking, obesity and binge drinking.
Hy-Vee dietitian Jen Haugen said 80 children helped out with Hy-Vee’s garden, which debuted in Austin and is now going company-wide.
There had been some doubt about whether the county would continue the program because the state hasn’t set the county’s match. In the past, it called for 10 percent county funds.
SHIP funds aren’t guaranteed, as it’s a competitive grant.
Public Health Director Margene Gunderson commended all the community groups for the all the work they’ve done.
“This was not an easy project,” she said.
In 2010 and 2011, $161,480 was spent on Community Projects in Mower County through SHIP, according to Gunderson.