Hernando is a Healthy Community

Blue Cross Blue Shield MS 2010 Healthy Hometown award winner

In 2010 The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation named Hernando its first ever “Healthiest Hometown in Mississippi” for demonstrating exemplary leadership and commitment to the health of its citizens. The City of Hernando received a $50,000 grant from the Foundation to support its ongoing health and wellness efforts. Click here to read more.

Hernando has implemented a Complete Streets policy, no-smoking ordinance and mandatory helmet use for youth while bicycling.

Hernando’s mayor, Chip Johnson, is a wellness champion, talking to groups across the nation about how local governments can promote healthy living and help reduce obesity. He was one of only two mayors in the United States to be selected to help Michelle Obama kick off her Let’s Move campaign, designed to reduce childhood obesity in the country.

The city sponsors an annual 10K race, has held an historic district walking tour, and regularly conducts a Healthy Eating and Active Living class, all to promote a healthy lifestyle. The Parks and Recreation program was non-existent 7 years ago, but now sports great programming and facilities. Hernando has an active bicycle club and running road race series.

Hernando is home to the state’s largest and best Farmers Market (in 2012 the market was named Mississippi’s Favorite Farmers Market by the American Farmland Trust and was 5th in the Nation in Large Markets). The market consistently has over 50 vendors each week selling fresh, local fruits and vegetables, local milk, meat, eggs, honey, goat milk soaps and lotions, flowers, plants, natural laundry detergent, soaps, knife sharpening services, artisanal bread, baked goods, canned and preserved items, and some artisan items, all under the shade of large trees on the historic courthouse lawn. The market accepts food stamps, as well as vouchers for seniors.

Hernando has a community garden within walking distance of the city’s most disadvantaged neighborhood, partnering with Head Start to begin healthy eating education at the earliest age, and working with faith communities to teach young people the value of local eating and helping the disadvantaged.

The city has eight times been named a “Playful City USA”.

Hernando is a well-planned community that requires land developers to install sidewalks in all new and redeveloping areas, including residential, commercial and industrial areas. The city has striped bike lanes and is in the process of installing signage promoting safe cycling. Developers also must donate a minimum of 10% of the land they are urbanizing to open space/parks. Other development policies, like a requirement for connected streets, helps make the city more walkable and bikable. The city’s design standards, both those in the historic districts and citywide, make the community safer and more attractive, further increasing the possibility that citizens will walk and bike.

Hernando has held a Ride of Silence to bring attention to deaths and injuries as the result of bike/auto accidents and sponsors an annual Bike to Work day. The city received an honorable mention as a Bike Friendly Community from the National League of Bicyclists.

The city participates in the county’s Greenways program as well as the North Mississippi Land Trust, working to insure that there is more walking and biking infrastructure in the county, as well as conserving land for its ecosystem values (including land for growing food and keeping mature tree canopy for shade and trees for cleaner air and water).
Hernando has a Safe Routes to School program to encourage walking and biking to school, by building new sidewalks and educating the public.

The city is working with the local school district to fashion joint use agreements, providing more recreational space without increasing the tax burden with duplicative facilities.

City staffers work with the local Community Foundation to help train local planning and elected officials in healthy eating and active living policy development via a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant.

Hernando was featured in a video used to announce the national County Health Rankings and Roadmap findings. The rankings are a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Public Health Institute. Communities use the rankings to educate themselves on what’s shaping health where they live.