Haughton joins health initiative

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Amanda Simmons/Press-Tribune | Haughton’s movers and shakers participated in a meeting with nutrition agents from the LSU AgCenter last week. Town, regional and state representatives as well as members of the faith-based community gathered to share ideas for improving the overall state of health in the town and surrounding area.

There’s a statewide initiative that’s building a healthier Louisiana one town at a time.

The LSU AgCenter is building healthy communities through collaboration and community ownership. This inclusive approach is their long-term commitment to creating healthy lifestyles.

Statistics show the state’s obesity rate is at 34.7 percent, compared to national average of 28.1 percent. Louisiana now has the highest adult obesity rate in the nation, according to The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America released September 2016.

The LSU AgCenter also reports that 16 of the 64 Louisiana parishes have an obesity rate over 40 percent. In order to combat this, they introduced a statewide Healthy Community Initiative last year. It is intended to improve both the physical and social environments that influence health.

The initiative seeks partnerships with local schools, elected officials, community members, faith-based communities, and community stake-holders to deliver practice and evidence based interventions to influence the complex determinants of health.

Haughton’s movers and shakers participated in a meeting with nutrition agents from the LSU AgCenter last week. Town, regional and state representatives as well as members of the faith-based community gathered to share ideas for improving the overall state of health in the town and surrounding area.

It’s the first of many steps the town will take to help combat the state’s statistics. Martha McGee, town alderwoman, said Haughton already has a head start with the opening of Joe Delaney Memorial Park last year.

“I think our community is ahead of this,” she said at the meeting. “The park is definitely going to help and the park on Highway 80 is probably the most used one in our area.”

The town celebrated a grand opening at Joe Delaney Memorial Park last fall. The next phase of construction will include a splash pad, walking trail and pavilions. Those projects should be completed and ready by summer 2017.

LSU AgCenter extension agents have already began working with the management team from the A.C.T.I.O.N. Food Pantry in Haughton to enhance their work with health information and trainings. A.C.T.I.O.N. (Area Christians Together In Our Neighborhood) is a non-profit organization that was created by local churches who are interested in helping the low income and less fortunate people and families in need in the Haughton area.

So what does a healthy Haughton look like? The town’s movers and shakers agreed that it would be a community of people that live longer, are more active or productive, have better mental health, and happier families that will make a stronger community.

A community forum will be held March 2 at Haughton High School from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. This will be an opportunity for the public to give their input on how to make Haughton healthy.

Amanda Simmons/Press-Tribune | Dorothy Allen (left) and Jan Knotts (right) pack food boxes at haughton’s A.C.T.I.O.N. Food Pantry.