The Fresno County Health Department is thrilled to have won a $500,000 federal grant. Health officials say they plan to use the money to target the high death rates in the area caused by diabetes, heart disease and strokes.
Fresno County's chronic unhealthiness may have earned the area a half a million dollar grant. "Fresno and some of the rest of the San Joaquin Valley have some of the most dramatic inequalities between the richest and poorest neighborhoods.
In Fresno there is a 20 year or more difference in life expectancy," said Dr. John Capitman, a professor at Fresno State. Capitman is in the core leadership group currently brainstorming how to use the federal money to make people healthier.
According to the State Department of Public Health, Fresno County ranks 54th worst out of 58 counties for diabetes deaths. For heart disease, Fresno County ranks 48, and for stroke, Fresno County is nearly the worst.
Health officials say the grant money will fund programs including promoting tobacco free living. They plan on targeting children at a young age to prevent them from smoking.
"By reducing the number of people who smoke cigarettes, we will be able to reduce the number of people who suffer from heart attacks in Fresno County and we can also reduce the rate of stroke among our older adults here in Fresno County," said Fresno County health director, Dr. Edward Moreno.
Health care workers also want to make locally grown fruits and vegetables more accessible to families living in rural communities. "We have in Fresno County the highest agricultural production in the state and in the nation and yet people living in Fresno County and particularly our poor neighborhoods still struggle to eat healthy," added Dr. Moreno.
Health officials are also working in partnership with the Fresno County Office of Education to come up with new ways to get kids to be more active.