City is ‘Healthiest Hometown’ in state

Published 5:31pm Wednesday, July 2, 2014

For the second year in a row, Brookhaven is the winner of a “Healthiest Hometown” award from the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation.

While last year’s honors came within Brookhaven’s population category and included a $25,000 grant, this year’s recognition is the “grand prize” for the “Healthiest Hometown” in the state and carries with it a $50,000 award.

In making its decision, a panel of health and wellness experts cited Brookhaven’s many programs geared toward enhancing residents’ health and wellbeing. Winners also are selected based on criteria such as having a tobacco-free ordinance and bicycle helmet laws.

Also cited in the recognition were the city’s “Mississippi Certified Farmers Market,” the Brookhaven School District’s “Child Nutrition Best Practice” award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the development of low-sodium and gluten-free spice blends and recipes that can be used in school cafeterias, and the local businesses that have implemented tobacco cessation and worksite exercise and wellness programs. Also, municipal employees receive on-site health screenings and discounts at fitness centers.

The Brookhaven Healthy Hometown Committee’s work to increase wellness through various activities and resources for residents also was noted.

“Brookhaven continues to set a positive example for communities around the state in taking a dynamic approach to developing local health programs and initiatives,” said Sheila Grogan, executive director, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation. “We believe this grant enables them to provide even more support to citizens in the years to come.”

Led by Brookhaven Alderman at Large Karen Sullivan, the local Healthy Hometown Committee worked hard to achieve this recognition for Brookhaven. The city’s back-to-back awards are an example of how well our city stacks up with others around the state in this major quality-of-life area.

The $50,000 grant will go toward additional health-related initiatives in the city. Last year’s funding is being used to build a walking trail at Bicentennial Park.

And while the grants are significant and a boost to the town’s infrastructure and program offerings, Brookhaven’s recognition as the state’s Healthiest Hometown is truly priceless and should be a feather in the cap for local economic developers seeking to bring jobs and new residents to town.