Mississippi's Healthy Hometown 2020
Located in Leake County, the Town of Walnut Grove has an active Healthy Hometown Committee, led by the mayor, which meets regularly and includes town leaders as well as local business, school, church, medical and other community leaders. Health and well-being are promoted on the town’s social media platforms to encourage healthy eating and exercise. As of 2020 these platforms have almost 5,000 followers, which Healthy Hometown Committee members say is an accomplishment for a population of just under 500.
The Town of Walnut Grove adopted a policy to allow municipal employees to walk or exercise for 30 minutes during business hours twice each week. Employees have easy access to the town’s well-lighted fitness trail as it connects city hall, the library and the fire station together in a three-quarter mile loop. Outdoor fitness equipment is located along the trail offering additional exercise opportunities.
Nicotine-free lifestyles are encouraged by the Town of Walnut Grove. The town adopted a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance that also prohibits the use of e-cigarettes in all workplaces, restaurants and bars without exception. The town also provides residents with resources for tobacco cessation that is free or low cost.
The Walnut Grove Fire Station is a popular venue for community wellness activities. Volunteer firefighters host farmers’ market and community garden activities. Residents work alongside firefighters to cultivate the garden and harvest fruits and vegetables for the farmers’ market. The town uses social media to promote the farmers’ market and community garden and regularly posts articles such as “Healthy Farmers’ Market Foods” and “How to Start a Container Garden.”
Walnut Grove’s mayor and other town leaders collaborate with Leake County School District officials to challenge school personnel, students and their families to engage in health and fitness activities. The mayor presented Walnut Grove’s health and wellness opportunities at the school district’s annual convocation, holiday gathering and teacher appreciation dinner and invited attendees to visit the farmers’ market, volunteer in the community garden and utilize the fitness trail and park.
With the $50,000 grant award, the Town of Walnut Grove plans to upgrade its town park with an interactive play structure designed to increase children’s fitness levels.