Group meets to foster health

MARSHALL – Seventy-three percent of Lyon County adults are overweight, including 34 percent who are obese, according to a survey. Only 36 percent of survey takers said they ate five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day. These statistic have wide-ranging ramifications including absenteeism and poor productivity at work.

“Obesity is a huge drain on our economy and more personally in every community,” say members of a new grass roots committee formed to advocate for a healthier Marshall.

A Healthy56258 community stakeholder meeting took place Thursday afternoon at the Marshall Area YMCA.

Healthy56258 aims to establish and sustain a healthier community and is comprised of volunteers from a cross-section of Marshall. Steering committee members are Tom Bolin from the Marshall Area YMCA, Kris Cleveland of Southwest Minnesota State University, Tom Hoff of SWWC and GreenStep, Bruce Lamprecht of Marshall Public Schools, Karen Madden of Great America Financial, Jeri Morris of The Schwan Food Co., Judy Pitzl of Statewide Health Improvement Program and Kelsey Stern of AmeriCorps VISTA.

Members of the community also attended the meeting Thursday including Mayor Bob Byrnes, Cheryl Rude, a dietitian at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center and Anytime Fitness owner Kyle Henning.

The group started in spring 2014, when Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota met with the stakeholders of My Marshall to determine if Marshall was interested in a establishing a healthy community initiative.

With the help of various entities such as the Small Business Development Center and North Sky Health Consulting, the group created a business plan, established an organizational structure and secured the YMCA as fiscal host and SMSU as an anchor institution.

Healthy56258 is comprised of volunteers with full-time jobs who have only so much time to spare, said Madden, who is one of the co-chairs along with Stacy Frost.

“We hope to hire an executive director by fall 2016,” she said. “We’re hoping the community will support and fund the position for at least five years.”

The executive director would be housed at Southwest Minnesota State University.

Madden said there are a lot of opportunities for improvement for Marshall residents, whose health statistics reflect Minnesotans in general.

Healthy56258’s goals are to secure sponsorship partners, facilitate a Campus and Community Connect event, partner with Safe Routes to School and create a communication plan to reach all community members.

Lamprecht said improving the health of Marshall residents is good for Marshall businesses.

“It’s good for economic development for our community,” he said. “Healthy employees mean healthy businesses.”

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, the annual return on investment for worksite wellness programs is $3-$6 saved for every $1 spent after about two to five years.