By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
PITTSBURG, Kan. —
Bike racks, healthier vending machine options and gardens will be funded by a grassroots group in Crawford County that is working to improve the health of area residents.
Joanna Rhodes, coordinator of Crawford County Live Well, said her group will be giving this year’s six grant recipients a total of $5,000 to put toward projects.
“These recipients are making small changes within our community to improve and encourage its overall everyday health and wellness,” Rhodes said.
The grant program targets increasing consumption of healthy fruits and vegetables, exercise, Live Well’s community visibility and organizational partnerships.
Grant recipients include the Pittsburg’s Department of Parks and Recreation, which will receive $1,200. Kim Vogel, director, said the money will be used for bicycle racks downtown and along designated bike routes.
Bike racks were highlighted by Mark Fenton, a nationally known expert on walking and healthy communities, during a recent visit to Pittsburg to analyze what the community could do to become more walking and biking friendly. He said amenities such as bike racks could foster a more vibrant economy.
Pittsburg High School will receive a grant for $950, which will be used to provide students with healthier vending machine options.
The Pittsburg School District also will receive a $950 grant to be used for a school garden project at Westside Elementary School, where students will plant raised vegetable garden beds and maintain them through summer school.
First Christian Church will receive a grant for $900 to assist in improving the Community Garden. That garden, which was created in 2009, is planted and maintained each year by volunteers and the produce is donated to the Wesley House food bank.
CLASS Ltd will receive a $750 grant to create two raised vegetable beds at a residential living center in Pittsburg.
“Clients will tend to the gardens, and they’ll have first choice of whatever is produced in them,” said DeAnna Goering, grant development coordinator. “That also gets them outside, up and out in the fresh air. With the surplus vegetables, we’ll donate them to Wesley House.”
Franklin Community Council will receive a $250 grant for a bicycle rack to be placed at the Franklin Community Center, which in the past two years has been developed as the Miners Hall Museum and has steadily gained traffic thanks to monthly exhibits.
“Many folks bicycle to visit the Franklin Community Park and Farmers Market and we have had several requests for a bike rack to be placed at the center,” said Phyllis Bitner, who is on the council.