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Five years of work and $327,500 in a Community Transformation Grant has made for noticeable health improvements in Scott County.

That is the case, said Christina McDonough, the Community Transformation consultant for the Scott County Health Department. McDonough spoke at the monthly meeting of the Scott County Board of Health.

Back in 2011, the department received the grant, which was from $3 million allocated to Iowa as part of the federal Affordable Care Act.

This grant amounted to $65,500 per year and was spent in four main areas:

• Tobacco-free living.

• Active and healthy eating.

• Clinical preventative services.

• Building safe and healthy environments.

It also created new programs, including "Better Choices, Better Health," which is taught to people at Milestones Area Agency on Aging, formerly known as Generations, in Davenport. 

Money was spent to promote smoke-free areas, including in some local apartment buildings and parks. A task force was formed to address the problem of hunger in the Quad-Cities and food waste, McDonough said.

McDonough pointed out some success stories: The Better Choices, Better Health program, for example, attracted 12 participants in 2013, but that doubled to 24 in 2014.

Several work sites have adopted wellness programs, she said, pointing out fun events to promote activity. For example, county workers in the downtown administrative center had a scavenger hunt on the building's staircases.

The Wapsi River Education Center in rural Dixon put up kayak racks and marked outdoor walking trails using some of the funds.

In Eldridge and Walcott, the county supported the installation of outdoor exercise equipment and markers on bike paths, McDonough said.

One of the projects McDonough liked the best involved the Pleasant Valley School District, which set up a wellness committee comprised of district nurses, and bought safety vests for those on patrol.

Some of the initiatives will continue, even as the federal grant has ended. Additional public health grant funds will support: Be Healthy Q-C, a community-wide wellness initiative; work site wellness initiatives, including the Nutrition Environment Measures Survey in vending machines and restaurants; and the Food Waste Task Force.

Food waste concerns prepared food from places such as restaurants that can be safety shared in local homeless shelters and food pantries. McDonough said there is also concern about excessive food sent to local landfills.

"We are working on guidelines to develop sustainable plans for the future," said Amy Thoreson, assistant health department administrator.