We are so excited to announce the Faithful Families award winners! Congratulations to these programs and many thanks for all of the work they are doing to connect faith and health in the communities they serve. We love learning more about the efforts made to eat healthier foods, increase physical activity, and reduce chronic disease. We’re so proud of all our faith communities and the work that they’re doing!
Flagship Award Recipient
Congratulations to Janice Fields, Family and Consumer Science Agent in Robeson County, North Carolina.
According to the 2015 State of County Health Report, 4 of the top 5 leading causes of death in Robeson County include heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. Also, these chronic diseases in adults are impacted by a county poverty rate of 32%, poor nutrition, and food insecurity.
In an effort to address this need, in 2019, Robeson County Cooperative Extension provided Faithful Families classes to 59 participants at a local church, of which 21 attended 5 or more classes.
After the workshops concluded, completed pre- and post-surveys from 14 participants revealed 100% increased knowledge and 93% changed behavior. Forty-three percent stated they were eating more fruits and vegetables and 71% stated they are drinking more water. Furthermore, at least one stated she had lost 6 pounds since the class had started, was eating more fruit and exercising more often. Others stated they were more conscious of portion sizes and reading food labels. In addition, several are now practicing safe food-handling techniques such as washing their fruit before consuming and sanitizing surfaces. By adopting healthy and safe eating and physical activity habits, these participants will improve their families’ health, save money, and lessen the financial burden on the health care system. Based on results, Cooperative Extension will continue to offer similar programs in the future.
Janice has been implementing Faithful Families in Robeson County for many years, becoming one of the first counties to adopt the program after its pilot. She worked closely with partners at the NC Division of Public Health to implement the program, demonstrating that collaboration and coordination can lead to bigger collective impacts. Although Janice has retired, her work will continue. We are so grateful to have worked with Janice. Congratulations, Robeson County!
National Partner Award
We’d also like to extend our wholehearted congratulations to Ebony Lott, SNAP-Ed Extension Agent, Karen Bernard, FCS Agent, Benneka Brooke, SNAP-Ed Program Assistant, and the Faithful Families team at UT-TSU Shelby County in Memphis, Tennessee.
In the greater Memphis metropolitan area of Tennessee, a marketing outlet was needed to acquaint faith communities with the Faithful Families curriculum. Since Memphis has over 1,500 churches of different denominations, it was decided that an innovative way to reach many different churches in various communities would be to host a Train-the-Trainer workshop. Ms. Lott, Ms. Bernard, and Ms. Brooke partnered with the Church Health Center to spread the word to any leaders, ambassadors, or volunteers interested in leading the program or assisting with the implementation of Faithful Families. The Train-the-Trainer workshop is a two-day training that is conducted twice a year. Each training has had 5-7 churches and up to 20 people in attendance. The workshop has given each church the chance to implement the Faithful Families program at least twice a year. The program is not only reaching the church and community members, but is leading to policy, system, and environment changes, as well.
UT-TSU Shelby County Faithful Families’ Train-the-Trainer has exceeded expectations already within this first year; 10 churches have been reached, and within those 10, five have either completed, started, or planned to implement the program. The program has reached over 100 adults! The success of this program is directly correlated to the unique collaboration between Extension and the Church Health Center working together to better the churches and communities of Memphis, TN. In addition, it demonstrates how people are willing to step up and take responsibility for delivering this program because they want to see changes occur.
Many wonderful changes have already been seen in the communities as a result of implementing the Faithful Families program. One church understands the need for getting a registered dietitian to conduct a program on disease prevention. Another church is planning to create a walking group and is hoping to install mile markers in their gym or closest park.
Partnering with the Church Health Center made it possible to do the Train-the-Trainer UT-TSU Shelby County Faithful Families program in Memphis, TN. The Church Health Center not only helped to recruit the churches, but they also provided the space to conduct the training and food demonstrations. In addition, the partnerships with the churches and their leaders are key to this program being successful. Without the churches and their leaders, the Train-the-Trainer workshops would not have happened. This success allows churches to pass along the information for other churches to go through the training.
Congratulations to the greater Memphis metropolitan area!