Montgomery County was named the healthiest county in Maryland for the fifth year in a row March 14, according to rankings compiled by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin.
RWJF uses two primary categories in determining their annual rankings: health outcomes and health factors. Health outcomes look at length and quality of life, while health factors include health-related behaviors, social and economic factors, clinical care and the environment. The rankings also take into account factors such as graduation rates, education levels and premature deaths.
“Our rankings reflect a community that is on average well educated, with access to some of the best health care services available,” Mary Anderson, an information officer from Montgomery County Health and Human Services, said. “[High] education levels means people do better than average in taking care of their health by getting recommended screenings, eating healthy, exercising, etc.”
Although some residents suffer from food insecurity and other preventable health issues due to high living costs in Montgomery County, the county’s strong public health focus helps combat such issues.
Various county and local organizations worked together to create FoodStat, a public online platform that is designed to provide information about food insecurity throughout the county to county officials, non-profits and other food assistance providers.
The site also helps users find food retailers and food assistance organizations, and provides practical details such as public transport routes, helping users plan when to visit affordable food centers.
“Many residents earn too much to be eligible for federal assistance programs, but yet do not come close to the county’s self sufficiency standard, leaving them vulnerable to food insecurity,” Amanda Nesher, a Food Security Programs Manager at the Montgomery County Food Council, said.