YES! Partner Spotlight: Working towards a healthier community in Rowan County
Thanks to grants provided through the YES! Youth Network, YES! was able to provide funding and support to youth-adult groups in order to advocate for the House Bill 250 – the NC Healthy Corner Stores Initiative. Today I want to highlight the amazing work being done by The Crown In Glory Lutheran Church Youth Group in Salisbury, NC. The work being done by this group will not only benefit the health of their community but could encourage other communities to do the same thing.
Youth from the Crown In Glory Youth Group, are playing a major role in working towards giving community members access to healthy and affordable foods, specifically fruits and vegetables. They have been working to create permanent change in five of their local corner stores. On August 13th, they organized a Community Forum whe
re they highlighted the importance of food access in corner stores and they worked as a community to bring light to this issue.
Farmers, convenient store owners, and concerned citizens all attended the forum as well as Mayor Karen Alexander, who had already begun spreading the word to community members. A focus group was pulled together regarding making affordable and nutritious fruits and vegetables available to people who don’t have access.
“The enthusiasm to learn and teach what they believe in has been phenomenal,” said Mrs. Ricks, Adult Leader of Crown In Glory. During the forum, each student took initiative in making a presentation regarding the need for food access to all members of the community. One youth member talked about diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity and the correlation these have with access to healthy fruits and vegetables. Having corner store owners, community members, and farmers together allowed the youth to mention the benefits that local and organic foods could have for all three parties. Additional topics discussed were: the role of transportation in food access and information about people living in food deserts in Rowan County.
As well as advocacy work towards HB 250, the Crown In Glory youth group has been providing education in churches on how poverty and the lack of fruit and vegetables both play a part in contributing to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity.
It is important to highlight the reason for advocacy work in this area. As stated by Trey from the Crown In Glory youth group, “We need to continue the important work of getting fresh food in corner stores because healthy foods are good for you, and they will help you avoid medical problems such as obesity and diabetes”, and not everyone is fully aware of this.
At least 1.5 million North Carolinians live in food deserts and are food insecure.
Not only have the youth demonstrated fantastic advocacy work with their community forum, but they have already started to make plans to continue taking action and working towards a healthier and less food insecure community.