$360,000 awarded for health effort.


Byline: George Barnes

FITCHBURG - When Kathleen M. McDermott was looking for a good example of healthy eating, she immediately thought of Andre Duffy.

Ms. McDermott, executive director of the Montachusett Opportunity Council, said Andre, 5, the son of MOC employee Linda Duffy, told her his favorite snack is cucumbers and carrots with hummus.

"That's the kind of thing we're doing," Ms. McDermott said. "That's a great snack for children."

Ms. McDermott was in City Hall yesterday afternoon to announce that her agency has been awarded a $360,000 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant to improve the health of people in Fitchburg.

The grant from the national organization will allow the council to expand "Fun & Fit - Healthy Kids, Healthy Fitchburg."

The first step will be a comprehensive health assessment of the community. Then the organizers will prepare a promotional campaign and develop plans to get people eating healthier.

A key will be developing a network of experts in community gardening, farmers markets, recreation and health care.

Mary Giannetti, coordinator of the program for the agency, said 50 communities are involved with the Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities program, from Seattle to Puerto Rico.

Somerville is the other community in Massachusetts to receive money for the program.

"The rest of the country and the eyes of Massachusetts are going to be following you over the next couple years to see how you do," said John Auerbach, commissioner of the state Department of Public Health, in Fitchburg yesterday.

"Fifty percent of our adults are overweight and 30 percent of the children," he said. Ms. Giannetti said the Fitchburg rates are 61.5 percent of adults and 22.1 percent of children.

Four Fitchburg High School...

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