July 17, 2008

Dannon Co. Promotes Healthy Life

By Beth L. Jokinen, The Lima News, Ohio

Jul. 17--MINSTER -- In its third year of giving money to promote healthy lifestyles in today's youth, the Dannon Co. is seeing results.

Pupils at Minster schools, the first recipient, are choosing more salads and fruits at lunch. They are more physically active and their families are joining the local YMCA.

Dannon touted the success Wednesday as it awarded its third $30,000 Next Generation Nutrition Grant to the Council on Rural Services.

"We feel we have a special mission with our youth," Didier Menu, senior director of the Minster Dannon plant, said during a check-presentation ceremony Wednesday.

The nonprofit organization, which works in 10 counties, will use the funds for its childhood nutrition awareness program, In the Know. It will work with schools, dieticians, local health departments and the YMCA in Auglaize, Shelby and Darke counties to encourage 900 children, parents and community members to maintain healthy lifestyles.

Jeanine Bensman, infant and toddler program manager, said the money will specifically be used for training to help raise awareness among staff, parents and others on proper nutrition and exercise.

"If we are modeling for them [children], and we are truly being advocates for healthy choices, then I feel like we will be making a difference," she said.

The council will also purchase materials with the grant money.

This is the third Next Generation Nutrition Grant to be awarded in Auglaize County. Each Dannon plant awards grants to local projects, totaling $340,000.

State Sen. Keith Faber, R-Celina, thanked the company for being a good corporate citizen, adding that the grant and its impact in communities, goes above and beyond. Promoting good health makes his job easier too, he added.

"It is going to be so much easier for the state, when we deal with budget issues, if I don't have to worry about long-term health issues," he said. "It is much easier to deal with a healthy population than it is to deal with an unhealthy population."

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