Fayette County

Grant will help improve eating habits and health of East End

A $52,000 grant to create a virtual center where information will be shared about food and health benefits with residents of Lexington's East End neighborhood was awarded to the Blue Grass Community Foundation Wednesday.

Awarded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the grant was part of $2.26 million in matching grants to 19 local foundations to help "communities be better informed about specific issues through local projects."

"Our goal is to improve decision making about food through information," said Steve Austin, vice president of the Blue Grass Community Foundation. "But first, we are going to listen to what the folks have to say."

Residents will have the opportunity to talk about what they need to make better food choices. A digital food information center will then be created so people can go online and learn about all things related to food.

For those who don't feel comfortable on computers, "we also are going to do it the old-fashioned way with paper they can pick up. Or we can mail it out," he said. A smartphone app also will be available.

The information available could be a recipe to use for food in season, or what store is having a sale at a certain time.

It will have "very basic stuff that hopefully will help people make better decisions about what is available," said Austin.

The grant announcement stated that adults and children living in the East End will also have an opportunity to interview older residents and produce stories that will help others learn about gardening, food preparation, cooking methods and entrepreneurship.

About 97 percent of the children in the East End qualify for free or reduced lunches at school.

"What we think is pretty cool is that we will link young people with older folks in the community to interview them on video and talk about what it was like when people used to cook," Austin said.

"If we succeed here, we can do it across the city," he added. "We can transform Lexington, no matter where people live, to make better decisions about food."

The challenge grant requires matching money. The foundation has that. Blue Grass Foundation also received a $25,000 grant from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, Austin said.