(Central Square) — The Indiana Department of Health has awarded $35 million in grants to address what it calls critical health issues affecting Indiana residents. The money comes from the federal American Plan of Rescue Act and can be used to fund initiatives through 2026.

The Department of Health has solicited funding proposals for smoking cessation, food insecurity or obesity, lead exposure, hepatitis C or chronic disease or prevention programs, according to the Department of Health. More than 200 applications have been received from health care providers in the state; 154 awards were made.

“Improving Hoosiers health benefits individuals, communities and businesses, and we are incredibly grateful to our state legislators for making Hoosiers health a priority,” said Chris Box, state health commissioner. “The ability to fund programs that address some of the most pressing health issues facing our state will enable us to create community-based solutions that build a brighter, healthier future for future generations.”

The funding came from the federal government’s American Rescue Plan Act, which was created to combat the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nation’s health and economy. Indiana received $1.28 billion through ARPA, some of which was appointed General Assembly to improve health outcomes.

Grants were awarded to organizations operating in 72 of Indiana’s 92 counties and three state organizations. The biggest funding priority was combating food insecurity and obesity. Nearly $9.4 million was allocated to 29 organizations for this purpose.

According to a 2021 United Health Foundation report, about 37% of Hoosiers are obese. This compares to a national rate of 32%. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines obesity as a body mass index of 30% or higher.

According to UHF, about 12% of households in Indiana experience food insecurity, defined as the inability to provide enough food for at least one family member.

The Ministry of Health has published these other estimated funding amounts by category.

·$6.5 million to fight hepatitis C

·$5.6 million for community health workers

·$4.2 million for lead prevention

·$4 million for community paramedicine

·$2.7 million for cardiovascular disease and diabetes

·$980,000 for cancer prevention

·$790,000 for tobacco prevention

·$850,000 to fight asthma

Typical grant amounts ranged from $100,000 to $200,000, although some were much higher. No organization received more than $850,000.

Nutritional obesity and food insecurity programs will increase school physical activity programs to increase the number of schools participating in nutrition programs such as school breakfast and Summer Catering ProgramThe Department of Health told The Center Square via email.

Some of the programs being funded will provide education and awareness. For example, the asthma grants will be used to raise awareness among staff at public schools, day care centers and other places where people gather indoors.

Cancer funds will be used for cancer screening, education, non-insurable medical expenses.

Program guidelines stipulate that grant funds cannot be used for existing health programs but must fund new initiatives.

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