Thursday, October 1

SU Ag Center partners with LSU AgCenter, Pennington and DHH on $1.25 million grant to reduce obesity and chronic diseases in three LA parishes

BATON ROUGE, La. – The LSU AgCenter has been awarded a two-year, $1.25 million grant that will fund research and outreach projects aimed at reducing obesity and chronic diseases in three rural Louisiana parishes – Madison, St. Helena and Tensas.

The grant is from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Partner institutions working with the AgCenter include the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center, LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center and the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.

“This collaborative grant from the CDC will serve as a pilot in three parishes to promote healthier communities through coalitions,” said LSU Vice President for Agriculture Bill Richardson. “The expected changes will improve physical activity and nutrition, reduce obesity, and prevent and control diabetes, heart disease and stroke among residents in the targeted parishes.”

The LSU AgCenter joins seven other land-grant universities that have received CDC grants to leverage their extension efforts to help address health problems in rural communities. Universities were eligible for the grant if they are located in states with counties that have a 40 percent or greater adult obesity rate.

The project, tentatively named Healthy ABCs, will work to improve access to nutritious foods and recreation opportunities and instill healthy behaviors using a community-driven approach. The three parishes being targeted have some of Louisiana’s highest rates of obesity and poverty, said Denise Holston-West, the principal investigator for this grant and a registered dietitian with the LSU AgCenter.

“We want this to be driven by people in the local community,” Holston-West said. “It’s important for them to have a say so we can understand their needs and challenges and help address them.”

The Southern Ag Center will help establish community and school gardens and cooking camps in the three parishes.

“We are excited to collaborate with such outstanding institutions as we work diligently to decrease the incidence of obesity and obesity-related illnesses to ensure that our families and communities are healthy,” said Adell Brown, interim chancellor of the Southern University Ag Center.

The state Department of Health and Hospitals will also be part of the project through its Well-Ahead Louisiana program, which encourages people to eat better, exercise more and cut tobacco use.

The full article available at LSU AgCenter receives $1.25 million grant for project to improve rural healthFor further details, contact Olivia McClure at 225-578-3262 or

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