Where you live in the U.S. has major consequences to your health.
Beyond access to quality medical care, good health is influenced by many factors including jobs, housing, education, poverty and more. That’s according to the newly-released County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, which provides a snapshot on the health of every county in all 50 states.
At United Way, we believe everyone deserves to live well. However, not everyone has the chance to reach their full health potential. There are significant differences from one county to the next and across racial and ethnic groups.
“Health disparities emerge when some individuals gain more than others—from consistently better access to opportunities and resources over the course of their lives," according to the 2018 Rankings Key Findings Report.
Given this information, we can explore what’s possible and make changes to increase opportunity.
Roadmap or treasure map?
A map serves as a guide with various routes to get you to your destination but it does not tell you where to go. The Rankings provide a starting point for investigating and building a Culture of Health in your community. The treasure of the Rankings is that the tools dramatically increase your awareness of the challenges and opportunities to improve the health of your community.
United Way of the National Capital Area is using the Rankings to prioritize in fighting for the health, education and financial stability for everyone in the Washington, DC-area. We know that students who struggle during middle school are at risk of dropping out before graduating high school, and children living in poverty face numerous barriers to success. One of the barriers identified in the Rankings is food insecurity, an impediment to student’s academic success. That’s why we’re ensuring 12,000 low to moderate income middle school student receive nutritious foods so they are more likely to attend school, be ready to learn and stay engaged through graduation.
The Rankings helped us identify the communities and students with the greatest need. We’ve implemented programs and partnered with schools and organizations to deploy school-site food pantries; afterschool/Saturday school snack and meal programs; family engagement night dinners; family food markets; and monthly family food distributions.
Help Create a Culture of Health
You can reach out to your local United Way to find out how you can help create a Culture of Health.
- Explore the rankings for the county in which you live and/or work.
- Acknowledge and communicate your county’s strengths, challenges and gaps.
- Talk with partners and use the tools to move towards action.
By increasing opportunities for everyone, we can reduce gaps in health across our country.