DeKalb Board of Health kicking off new $792,000 REACH grant program

DeKalb County Board of Health is kicking off the start of its five-year $792,000 Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) from the US Centers for Disease Control on Dec. 5.

It was one of 31 counties, community-based organizations, government agencies and institutions of higher learning nationwide, out of 265 applicants, awarded 2018 REACH grants totaling more than $36.4 million in October to reduce health disparities among racial and ethnic populations with the highest burden of chronic disease like hypertension, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and obesity.

This is the Board of Health’s second fourth REACH grant since 2014.  

Eric Nickens, the Board of Health spokesman said Dec. 4 that over the four years between 2014 and 2018, it received more than $3.4 million, an average award of $858,819 per grant year.

The Board says that this REACH initiative, which will extend from 2018 to 2023, will help it improve nutrition and increase physical activity among African Americans and facilitate their access to community health programs. 

Planned activities include supporting a mobile farmers market, increasing walking and biking safety around schools, and linking people with chronic diseases to health care and it will partner with stakeholders like the DeKalb County Recreation, Parks and Cultural Affairs Department; the DeKalb County School District and the Live Healthy DeKalb Coalition.  Other partners include Georgia Safe Routes to School, Pea Pod Nutrition and Lactation Support, Physicians Care Clinic and University of Georgia DeKalb County Cooperative Extension.

The CDC says that REACH grants help recipients employ culturally-tailored interventions to address preventable risk behaviors like tobacco use, poor nutrition, and physical inactivity.

More than 265 applicants vied for the 2018 round of grants.

Statewide, DeKalb County, which has a high rate of chronic disease, ranks 18th out of 159 Georgia counties for overall health outcomes with cardiovascular disease being the second leading cause of death, and  diabetes, which affects more than 10 percent of the population,  being the eighth leading cause of mortality in the county.

Obesity, which is a risk factor for diabetes and cardiovascular and other chronic diseases, affects approximately 30 percent of adults and 13 percent of adolescents.

It is one of three recipients in Georgia. The others are Houston County Board of Health/North Central Health District  in Macon, (Hancock County) which received $542,378, and the Young Men’s Christian Association of Coastal Georgia, Inc.  in Savannah (Chatham County) which received $685,344.

During the grant period, the DeKalb Board of Health says that it will focus on nutrition, physical activity, and community-clinical linkages in African American communities. Its initiative will make improvements to voucher incentive programs; improve nutrition standards; increase access to healthier foods at community venues; establish lactation support services; establish new or improved pedestrian and bicycle transportation systems; connect the priority population to appropriate and locally available health programs; and expand the use of health professionals to increase referrals.

The 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.  kickoff event takes place at Board of Health’s  Richardson Health Center,  445 Winn Way, in Decatur.

For more information, call the Board of Health’s Office of Chronic Disease and Prevention at 404-508-7987 or email