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Oxford Earns Wellness Award, Receives $25,000 Grant

The city of Oxford has been named one of Mississippi’s Healthy Hometowns by the Blue Cross & Blue Shield Foundation.

The city of Oxford was recently named a 2015 Healthy Hometown award winner by the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation. The city earned the award for its health and wellness efforts extended to both residents and University of Mississippi students throughout the 2014 and early 2015 year.

The town received a $25,000 grant for encouraging and rewarding community health and wellness. According to City of Oxford officials, the town plans to use the grant money to enhance the city’s bike trail with an outdoor fitness zone so that circuit-style training can be combined with cardiovascular activities.

The Healthy Hometown Award is presented to a municipality from three categories based on the population of the town – large town of 15,000 or more residents, medium town of 5,001-14,999 residents and small town of 5,000 or fewer residents. Each town receives a $25,000 grant to be used for health and wellness initiatives within the area. Oxford won the award in the “large town” category.

To aid in the wellness efforts of the area, links on the city’s website provide significant health and wellness information related to healthy eating, local fitness centers, sports activities and walking clubs among other recreational activities.

Both the city and the University of Mississippi have smoke-free policies that include all public indoor and outdoor places.

The RebelWell initiative reaches out to UM students as well as the surrounding community and offers wellness opportunities on the Ole Miss campus.

The Oxford School District contributed to the overall wellness of the city by introducing the Good Food for Oxford Schools program in early 2015. The program provides nutrition education to school cafeteria employees and local harvest ingredients to be used in school meals. Salad bars were placed in each school and combination ovens replaced fryers. OSD also partnered with local farmers to introduce students to different types of fruits and vegetables though the “harvest of the month” program.

Other wellness efforts that contributed to the award include the city equipping police and fire stations with fitness facilities and providing municipal employees with on-site health screenings. Local businesses also started implementing worksite wellness programs for their employees.

Other Healthy Hometown Award winners were Kosciusko, medium town and Morton, small town.

Walnut was named Mississippi’s Healthiest Hometown for 2015 and received a $50,000 grant.

Beth Harmon is managing editor for HottyToddy.com. Email her at beth.harmon@hottytoddy.com

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