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County takes aim at sodium

Grant funding to help seniors reduce sodium intake

Seniors might not be aware of how much salt they are digesting daily, but Schenectady County aims to help them get a better grasp to reduce associated health risks.

County officials announced on Monday, Dec. 20, the county received a $120,000 grant to be used over three years from the New York State Department of Health to raise awareness of the risk of high sodium diet, focusing on the risks for seniors. Earlier in the day, State Health Commissioner Richard Daines announced the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention awarded $975,000 to the state DOH to create healthier food environments and reduce New Yorkers sodium intake. The DOH will partner with the county to implement the Sodium Reduction in Communities program.

Schenectady County is proud to be one of only six communities to receive funding for this program, said Susan Savage, chairwoman for the Schenectady County Legislature, in a statement. "We know that people who reduce sodium in their diet see improved blood pressure and reduce their risk for developing other serious health problems. We hope that seniors in Schenectady County can learn and benefit from this program."

The county Public Health Services in collaboration with Cornell Cooperative Extension will work with senior centers serving meals and senior residential facilities to help lower sodium in meals served, said Joe McQueen, spokesman for the county. Also, the county is reaching out to restaurants frequented by seniors, such as diners and restaurants with "early bird" specials, to offer reduced sodium options for seniors.

McQueen said discussions with restaurants are in the early stages and any restaurant is welcomed to partner with the county in their initiative.

"Any restaurant that has a large senior cliental that wants to work with us on this, we would be very excited to hear from them," said David Pratt, commissioner of Schenectady County Public Health Administration. "Restaurateurs are aware of [health concerns] and want to offer healthful, flavorful meals."

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