Strengthening Community Health

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Many people are aware that healthy eating and physical activity can help prevent or delay the onset of some chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, or certain cancers. Yet, as a nation, we continue to see rising rates of these diseases. According the 2016 State of the County Health Report, in Lee County, the leading causes of death are disease of the heart, cancer, and stroke. Chronic disease affects an individual’s quality of life and can become a financial burden. With all of the knowledge currently available on healthy eating and physical activity, why are we not seeing an improvement in numbers?

Many factors and barriers exist that prevent people from eating a healthy diet. These include but are not limited to the lack of evidence-based nutrition knowledge, difficulty accessing healthy food, lack of cooking skills, busy schedules, and limited resources. Community health professionals and researchers are continuing to develop innovative solutions to help combat these barriers and empower individuals to take control of their health. However, these programs can be even more successful through strong community support for healthy change.

N.C. Cooperative Extension in Lee County offers evidence-based programs focused on encouraging healthy eating and physical activity. Community outreach is done through cooking demonstrations, health fairs, adult and youth cooking programs, community health coalition support, and the promotion of local foods. The overall goal is to promote access to healthy foods, increase cooking skills, address issues related to food insecurity, and provide community members with hands-on educational opportunities.

The upcoming NC State Extension Master Food Volunteer (EMFV) program offers Lee County residents the opportunity to engage with their community by supporting N.C. Cooperative Extension programming in the areas of nutrition, cooking, and local foods. This program provides the opportunity to develop skills and knowledge in leadership, community engagement, local foods, health lifestyles, and more! If these topics are new to you, do not let this prevent you from applying! This program offers comprehensive training in the areas of cooking, nutrition, food systems, health equity, food safety, teaching strategies, and the delivery of evidence-based programming. If you would like more information visit the Extension Master Food Volunteer page or call Alyssa Anderson at (919) 775-5624.

N.C. Cooperative Extension’s goal is to provide the residents of the community with research-based knowledge. For more information in Lee County on food safety, wellness, and nutrition please contact the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, Alyssa Anderson, MS, RDN, LDN at 919-775-5624 or Alyssa_Anderson@ncsu.edu.