The LSU AgCenter has been awarded a $5 million, five-year grant from the CDC that will fund an ongoing program to improve health in rural Louisiana and expand it to more parishes. The grant will support an initiative called Healthy Access, Behaviors, and Communities, or Healthy ABCs. AgCenter Nutrition Specialist Denise Holston says the program has been active for about three years.

"Using a community-based approached, we have been able to accomplish things that will improve the nutrition and physical activity environment in these communities," says Holston

Holston says among the techniques used to combat obesity are healthy check out aisles at grocery stores.

"And so there are 100% fruit juices, no candy, no sugar added beverages, and so people can make a healthy choice when they are checking out at the grocery store," says Holston.

Holston says overall the feedback on the program so far has been positive.

"They really enjoy it because we are access to physical activity as well as healthy foods that are affordable as well," says Holston.

The program has been available since 2015 in the parishes of Madison, Tensas, St. Helena, and West Feliciana.  The expansion will see the parishes of Assumption, Claiborne, East Carroll, and Morehouse will be added to the effort.

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