HEALTH AND WELLBEING PROGRAMMING
Article: "A food co-op is in the works for Southeast Raleigh"
by Elizabeth Bartholf
Walk down New Bern Avenue and you'll find what many Southeast Raleigh residents call "heart attack alley"—KFC, Cook-Out, Church's Chicken and Bojangles' all lined up, ready to deliver fast, cheap meals with a side of cardiovascular disease.
"All that fried food and bad food for you is right there with no alternatives," says Erin Byrd, who has lived in Southeast Raleigh for more than 10 years. Byrd is among several community leaders and residents who want to improve access to healthy food in the area. If all goes according to plan, Southeast Raleigh will see its first food cooperative in two to three years.
The next steps for the Fertile Ground Food Cooperative are to develop a business plan and conduct a feasibility study to ensure the area can sustain it, Byrd says. With co-ops in Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Durham, Byrd says it's about time Raleigh had one too.
"We feel like Southeast Raleigh is the place to begin," she says. "For us, it is a really good opportunity to come together as a community (with) this idea of spurring economic development through an alternative, which has shared ownership, shared investment and shared benefits for a community."
The Food Access Research Atlas, compiled by the Economic Research Service of the USDA, confirms what Byrd and other residents have long known: Southeast Raleigh is a food desert. As the USDA defines it, a food desert is an area with limited access to grocery stores and other sources of affordable and healthy foods, which makes it difficult for people to eat a quality diet. The atlas combines USDA data and mapping technology to determine accessibility to healthy food sources by measuring factors such as income levels, distance to the nearest supermarket and access to a car.
Plug New Bern Avenue into the map and you'll see the area and surrounding Southeast Raleigh
neighborhoods are classified as low-income households with limited vehicle access. Urban areas are more than a half-mile from the nearest supermarket and rural areas are more than 10 miles away. This year two Kroger grocery stores closed in Southeast Raleigh, leaving residents with limited, often unhealthy options at gas stations and convenience stores.
"There are lots of people here with no cars, no ability to go places. They walk to their local store and they walk home. When that store is gone, what are they going to do?" asks Rita Anita Linger, president of Southeast Raleigh Assembly (SERA), a nonprofit that works to improve the quality of life for
residents. "People are beginning to realize that we have to rely on ourselves in this community in order to ensure sustainability and that when a store picks up and leaves, it's not going to leave us stranded."
Ajuba Joy has called Southeast Raleigh her home for more than 20 years and says the area needs other programs, including community gardens and a co-op. "It empowers when you have ownership of something and you have a say. From the root to the fruit, you can be a part of the whole process. That's how the co-op can be wonderful for this community," Joy says.
She heads up SERA's community garden, ROOT 1, or Recognizing Our Own Talent 1. The garden, now located on Bailey Drive, is run by residents of all ages, and the harvest goes to community members, starting with senior citizens.
Joy was among a group of about 45 Southeast Raleigh residents who met in June to discuss co-op ideas. After completing the incorporation process, they can recruit members. The co-op is working with Carolina Common Enterprise, a nonprofit that helps fledgling co-ops and other economic community development
in North Carolina.
With lots of new faces at the June meeting, Byrd says the community has shown significant interest in a co-op. From finding a location to developing a membership structure, there is much to be done, Byrd says.
"But what I found exciting was that even after learning all of that, people were still on fire," she says.
This article appeared in print with the headline "An oasis in the food desert."
CLICK HERE to view the original article.
Health Care Disparities and Wellbeing Initiatives
After much research around how to impact obesity and chronic illness related to obesity over the long term, SERA, Inc. will be offering the programs listed in the attachments. All programs offered to meet the goal of obesity eradication, will have an evaluation component to it. We will also be launching an Integrative Health Center in January which will offer “complementary” health and wellness services in partnership with participant’s healthcare providers. The way to shift from a condition of obesity to a life that is healthy and fit is by changing harmful and unhealthy behaviors for the long term through health and wellness coaching and training which teaches people how to “manage” the difficulties around weight loss and their health.
Part of enhancing the quality of life of the residents within the 57 square mile radius of Southeast Raleigh is to encourage residents to take control of their health and wellbeing. SERA, Inc. is committed to assisting Southeast Raleigh residents to reconsider their own power over their own physical, emotional, and spiritual aptitude. We are providing residents with an opportunity to increase cardio vascular function and reduce obesity by hosting the state’s first “Dancing N the Park” 12 week series. Click here to see WRAL’s coverage of our first Dancing N the Park fitness event.
Dancing N the Park a collaborative led by SERA, Inc., grassroots community organizers and a certified fitness instructor, along with a real turntable DJ. Hundreds of Southeast Raleigh residents gather weekly in a Southeast Raleigh park to dance their way to fitness via a structured hour long exercise dance routine. Each week is a different theme, from Zumba, Oldies but Goodies, Afro-Brazilian Groves, Jamaican Funk, Hip Hop, to Praise Party. Participants are given opportunities to win memberships to fitness clubs, weekends at national hotels, and other health related prizes.
We know that high blood pressure along with other maladies are leading causes of heart disease, stroke, and death. These conditions are at epidemic proportions in the Southeast Raleigh community. The project will provide outreach and education to local citizens and small businesses who serve citizens reinforcing the importance of blood pressure readings and follow up. Small business owners in the Southeast Raleigh community will be taught how to utilize a blood pressure gauge machine and test customers coming into their stores. Customers will be provided counseling and follow-up through SERA, Inc. with regard to education, setting appointments and visits with specialist.
Southeast Raleigh residents will be provided with advocates who will work with them when they believe their clinical encounter has gone awry, their healthcare provider is not “hearing” them, or they believe their medical needs are not being met. SERA, Inc. and its volunteers will provide residents with mediated conversations with medical staff and work to intervene and bring about a win-win solution which will result in the citizen/patient compliance with Dr.’s instructions as they relate to improved health and wellbeing. Many of the volunteers on this project work within the medical field and include physicians, nurses, and hospital staff.
Clinical staff will also be provided opportunities to learn how to streamline their practice and work through the issues of HMO’s, PPO’s as it relates to quality clinical encounters with their patients. Also included are educational and facilitated opportunities for medical staff to enhance their cultural competency tool box through diversity exchanges and trainings.
Living Life To The Fullest Through Self-Love (LLFS)
SERA, Inc.’s “LLFS” self-advocacy, preventative health and wellness program, is designed to create an understanding in Southeast Raleigh residents of the power they have to quickly extend their lifespan, create health and wellness in their own lives and live fully by practicing some very simple steps.
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE THE SILENT KILLER — Hypertension, or high blood pressure, has no noticeable symptoms. That’s why it is commonly referred to as a “silent killer”. Untreated high blood pressure can lead to a greater risk for stroke, heart attack, or other heart damage. Normal blood pressure is less than 120 systolic over 80 diastolic —often written as 120/80 mm Hg (read 120 over 80 millimeters of mercury). If you have a doctor, he or she should measure your blood pressure during each visit. If your doctor finds that your blood pressure is consistently higher after several visits, you may be diagnosed with hypertension.
HIGH RISK FOR HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE AND HEART DISEASE — The odds are good that most people will have high blood pressure in their lifetime. In fact, more than 74 million American adults have high blood pressure. Approximately 90% of people with normal blood pressure at age 55 are at risk for developing high blood pressure as they get older. African Americans and Hispanic populations are at greater risk for developing high blood pressure and deadly heart disease than other ethnicities. Remember, that even though high blood pressure is quite common, it is still a dangerous condition that should be monitored closely by a doctor. While working closely with a doctor to follow a health and wellness plan is an excellent strategy, you don’t have to wait for a physician to monitor your blood pressure, you can be taught to conduct a reading yourself. By doing so, you will understand how your body is reacting to stressors, such as food, external and internal stress and other factors and become better able to manage your health and quickly make the changes needed to regain healthy blood pressure levels. Remember that “prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
THE STAGES OF HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE — Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80. When a person has a blood pressure reading between 120/80 and 139/89, this condition is called pre-hypertension. Stage 1 hypertension is defined as 140–159/90–99, and a blood pressure above those levels is considered Stage 2 hypertension.
OUR COMMITMENT TO SOUTHEAST RALEIGH — SERA, Inc. will work with community barber shops, salons and faith institutions to educate community members via facilitating experiential activities which include taking blood pressure readings, and counseling program participants ( i.e. business owners, clergy, clientele and congregation members) as well as creating onsite opportunities for follow-up and ongoing preventative training in partnership with members of the medical community. We believe that self-love through preventative care can create a quality of life for SER residents that will enhance their ability to live longer, and assist in finding fulfillment in life in order to reach pinnacles of success they would otherwise not be able to do were they in a state of “dis-ease”.
The McGuire Foundation
This virtual foundation is a “grand-friend” program and its purpose is to give back to the seniors in our community who have given so much of their time and energy to their community. We match young people who have community service hours either in school, or because they have made a minor foolish mistake and want to correct it, and have them provide a bevy of services to Southeast Raleigh seniors (i.e. walking their animals, going to the store for or with them, and being a general companion to them.) This program is co-directed by SERA, Inc. staff and a fifteen year old young lady who befriended, Mrs. McGuire, a senior citizen. The youth and Mrs. McGuire became very close and the relationship expanded the youth’s world as she helped Mrs. McGuire navigate her own. Mrs. McGuire recently passed away and this program is in memory to honor her.
The Fruits of Our Labor
SERA, Inc. announces our community garden endeavor!The endeavor is a partnership between SERA, Inc. and ROOT 1 (Recognizing Our Own Talent !). The partnership is flourishing in the historic Rochester Heights Community, near downtown Raleigh. Ajuba Joy, a longtime Southeast Raleigh resident, SERA Volunteer and Community Activist, is the founder and Executor of ROOT1.
The goal of the SERA, Inc./ROOT1 partnership is to enhance sustainability practices, connect the generations through gardening and harvesting initiatives, and empower the community to eat and live healthy. In April, the garden endeavor began to break ground, fertilize the soil and mulch. In May the planting began.
Yellow and Zucchini squash, tomatoes, watermelon, cayenne, banana and jalapeño peppers are among the vegetables and fruits being planted. The small garden contains flowers, bush, long leaf and Italian basil, mint, lemon balm, sage and thyme. The fragrances’ are pungent and visceral a joy to the senses!
The SERA, Inc./ ROOT1 garden endeavor participated in the Food Shuttle’s, Plant A Row for the Hungry initiative last year and the partnership donated the ripened peppers to the Food Shuttle. This year we are excited at the potential to reach out and impact citizens directly through the garden.
The summer’s intense heat and dry conditions can take its toll on gardens around the city but it is never too hot for theSERA, Inc./ROOT1 peppers. This year community members will have an opportunity to partake of the harvested vegetables and fruits in the garden as soon as they are harvested. Ajuba Joy and many of the garden’s volunteers have grown up with gardens or have had gardens and are experts in planting and growing the healthiest crops possible.
Those of you who have not seen Ajuba’s work in the community garden, must see it.., it is inspirational and has brought about community connectedness and relationship building through the task of planting in the earth and watching beauty flourish. By late August, SERA, Inc./ROOT1 will have planted collard greens and broccoli. It was no stretch when the invitation went out to the neighbors, to become involved. SERA, Inc. /ROOT1 garden endeavor will have volunteers from Wake Forest and Durham, NC. The youngest volunteer last year was age 3 and the eldest was 75. Ajuba and SERA, Inc. would like to thank all of the volunteers who have given of their time and support and all of those who will be participating to improve the quality of life for southeast Raleigh residents through healthy eating! We are in the process of expanding the garden to a larger plot of land in order to meet the demands of the citizens to experience healthy fruits and vegetables grown from local earth in their neighborhood!
For Information or to donate to this sustainable partnership please contact or send a check to:
SERA, Inc./Root 1 Endeavor
19 West Hargett Street (suite 200)
Raleigh, NC 27601