Margarette Figueroa of York City has struggled with her weight for years, she said. As a single mother of five, she's used to pushing her own needs aside for her kids.

But now it's time to take care of herself, she said.

She'll be taking part in the city's Healthy Communities Grant, a year-long subsidy program that will distribute Weight Watchers memberships to qualifying residents.

They'll be able to attend weekly meetings for $3 - a discount of $10 each - and gain free access to $19-a-month worth of digital tools, such as point tracking, recipes and a barcode scanner.

Figueroa, 38, said she'll start making healthier choices through the program.

"For less than a bag of chips, you can lose weight," she said.

York Mayor Kim Bracey announced Tuesday that a grant will provide subsidized Weight Watchers memberships to eligible city residents.
York Mayor Kim Bracey announced Tuesday that a grant will provide subsidized Weight Watchers memberships to eligible city residents. (BILL KALINA - bkalina@yorkdispatch.com)
"Who wouldn't want to do that?"

The grant: In June, York City was one of three communities to receive the $25,000 grant from Weight Watchers International and the United States Conference of Mayors. That money will go toward marketing and other measures to ensure the program's success, said Susan Craig, spokeswoman for Weight Watchers.

The other cities to receive the grant are Baltimore and Racine, Wis. York will receive a portion of Weight Watchers memberships worth $1 million split among the three cities.

The cities were part of three size categories, and York was a unanimous winner among the small cities, she said.

York City Mayor Kim Bracey said she's humbled and honored that the city was picked to take part in the program.

"Weight Watchers is here in the city of York, and we're happy about that," she said.

Qualifying participants are York City residents who are parents or grandparents of school-age children with a body mass index of 27 or more, Craig said. They must also be 18 or older and qualify their children for free school lunch.

They are able to participate in the program for three months before having to requalify, she said.

The program: York is the first city to launch the program, said Weight Watchers spokeswoman Stacie Sherer.

"We're really excited that this is happening around back-to-school time," she said, as January, springtime and the back-to-school season are when Americans want to get in shape the most.

The program plans to enroll about 150 qualifying York City residents this year, Craig said. And it's not just about shedding the pounds, she said: It's about parents becoming healthier role models for their children.

"We're the one program that is about healthy behaviors," Craig said, noting that it will encourage lifestyle changes, such as getting active and preparing healthy meals.

And like York City's health initiatives, such as the bicycle-promoting Eat Play Breathe York, the program is not about cosmetics - it's about health, she said.

"I think it's going to be a great partnership because we have the same goals," Craig said.

Weight Watchers sign-up dates and locations:

Tuesday, Oct. 8: 3 to 5 p.m. at Goode K-8, 251 N. Broad St. in York City

Wednesday, Oct. 9: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at York City Hall, 101 S. George St.

Thursday, Oct. 10: 5 to 7 p.m. at Devers K-8, 801 Chanceford Ave. in York City

Tuesday, Oct. 15: 5 to 7 p.m. at Lincoln Carter School, 559 W. King St. in York City

Meeting times and locations:

Mondays, starting Oct. 21: 6 p.m. at Lincoln Charter School

Wednesdays, starting Oct. 23: 9 a.m. at York City Hall

Thursdays, starting Oct. 24, 5:30 p.m. at Goode K-8

Every day: Call 1-800-374-9191 for meeting times at the Weight Watchers York Store, 351 Loucks Road in Manchester Township

-Reach Mollie Durkin at mdurkin@yorkdispatch.com.