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A five-year, $3.3 million federal grant will allow Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln to continue its work to reduce health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities in Lincoln.

The grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will build on a similar-sized grant aimed at reducing health disparities among low-income residents, said Bob Rauner, president of Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln.

The organization partners with community agencies to send common messages about healthy lifestyles, such as being more active, eating healthy foods and the benefits of breastfeeding, Rauner said.

The nonprofit agency will work with the Lincoln/Lancaster County Health Department, the Clyde Malone Community Center, El Centro de las Americas and the Lincoln Asian Community and Cultural Center, among others.

Having advocates from the different cultural agencies talk to their members about health issues is often most effective, Rauner said.

The cultural organizations now have breastfeeding advocates who work with those who use the centers, and the new grant will help defray those costs.

The grant money will allow the groups to continue and expand activities such as cooking clubs after school and health fairs, as well as building on the data collection at low-income health centers.

The cooking clubs began in the after-school programs, Rauner said, and organizers are looking at holding them in the cultural centers, too.

“You can actually eat healthy food on a low budget, but only if you know how to cook it,” Rauner said.

The grant will help with data-gathering to see whether the interventions are working, he said. Groups will work with the health clinics, which now gather data on the effectiveness of cancer screening and diabetes education, breaking down existing statistics by race and ethnicity.

Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln is one of 31 recipients of the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Heath grant.

Rauner said the work the partnership has done with Lincoln Public Schools to gather data on fitness levels and obesity rates of students and how that affects academic achievement is a big reason it received the grant.

“Our data consistently shows significant disparities in health outcomes within Lincoln’s minority communities and low-income neighborhoods,” Rauner said. “The REACH grant funding will provide additional resources to minority communities to help make measurable progress in reducing those health disparities.”

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7226 or mreist@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSreist.

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Education reporter

Margaret Reist is a Lincoln native, the mom of three high school graduates now navigating college and an education junkie who covers students, teachers and policymakers inside and outside the K-12 classroom.

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