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North Carolina Faith Communities Eat Smart and Move More

Promoting fun physical activity, First Baptist Church in Sanford hosts an exercise class open to the entire community.

Promoting fun physical activity, First Baptist Church in Sanford hosts an exercise class open to the entire community.

 

Let’s Move Faith and Communities challenges congregations and communities to make health a priority through wellness leadership implemented in three steps: lead, organize, and take action. Fifty North Carolina faith communities are doing just that through their partnership with Faithful Families Eating Smart and Moving More.

Faithful Families recently teamed up with Voices into Action, a USDA-funded research and outreach project based at North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

The five-year grant program is currently in its second year and has almost completed the first step of its research – interviews with community members in three North Carolina counties to better understand the obstacles low-income mothers, grandmothers, and caregivers face in the process of buying and preparing healthy meals.  Next up is implementing steps that can be taken to overcome these challenges and offer long lasting, community-driven, positive changes to people’s relationships with healthy food and physical activity.  In partnering with Faithful Families, Voices into Action can see some of these great changes already taking hold and transforming communities.

As Faithful Families participants, congregations agree to take action and implement one policy change and one environmental change within their community.  Most groups don’t limit themselves to only two changes.  Instead, they work to completely transform the health environment of their communities with measures like serving healthy snacks and water at community gatherings, cultivating a church garden, operating a food pantry, hosting walking groups and exercise classes, and partnering with their Cooperative Extension office to provide their congregation with nutrition education classes.

Congregation members of all ages help tend to the church garden at First Baptist Church in Sanford, North Carolina.

Congregation members of all ages help tend to the church garden at First Baptist Church in Sanford, North Carolina.

Founded in 2007, Faithful Families works to empower faith communities through a nine-week comprehensive program focused on food and nutrition education.  Community members attend weekly classes co-taught by an elected lay leader and nutrition and physical activity professionals.  These classes provide support and ideas for long-lasting changes toward better community health.

Check out the Let’s Move Faith and Communities toolkit for more activities to encourage healthy choices, physical activity, and ensure access to nutritious and affordable food in your community.

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