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Helping hands in the community

healthy eating
William Perry Elementary School’s kindergarten classes are piloting the Get Fresh program, which aims to instill healthy eating habits.

Augusta Health partners with local organizations

Augusta Health knows that there is more to a healthy community than treating people in the hospital. Because of this, its Community Outreach Department is working with several community organizations on programs that help boost wellness beyond the hospitals and clinics.

For instance, Augusta Health is working with six partners, including Valley Mission and Waynesboro Area Refuge Ministry (WARM), on a healthcare for the homeless program. Augusta Health staff visit the residents at these shelters to assess their health needs and provide preventive healthcare.

“We started working with Valley Mission, providing blood pressure and with Valley Community Services Board, providing mental health screenings. We are also partnering with the local Virginia Department of Health to give vaccines for flu, shingles and Tdap,” explains Krystal Moyers, director of Community Outreach for Augusta Health.

Bus tokens are provided to help participants overcome transportation barriers and connect them with additional resources in the community, such as primary care and mental health specialists.

Walk the talk

Augusta Health has been involved in other community health initiatives. In recognition of National Walk to School Week this October, Augusta Health partnered with the Waynesboro Public Schools, Waynesboro City, YMCA and Office on Youth to encourage as many students as possible to walk to school. Each day of the week, a different school had a Walk to School. Parents and teachers were among the community volunteers posted at the middle school and four elementary schools to lead the walking schools’ buses.

Healthy habits

Another effort underway is the Get Fresh program, which is being piloted in Waynesboro’s William Perry Elementary School kindergarten classes. The program aims to instill healthy eating habits early, says Moyers. “We have a higher than average rate of diabetes among adults in Staunton, Augusta County and Waynesboro,” she says, “and we want to slow the incidence of type 2 diabetes among youth. Augusta Health will track program outcomes over time to see if the initiative is successful.”

Children at William Perry Elementary School enjoy the healthy food from the Get Fresh program.
One aspect of the program is food tastings of nutritious locally grown fruits and vegetables provided by Project Grows. There will also be field trips to show where and how food is grown and how it gets to stores, homes and the school cafeteria.

The Virginia Cooperative Extension will lead another part of the program. Its classroom-based curriculum called “Fresh Fruits and Vegetables” features handouts for students that teach about seasonal foods, and why vitamins and minerals are good for the body.

And it’s not just the kids who will benefit. The Virginia Cooperative Extension, Augusta Health and the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank will work together on Families, Food and Fun, a four-week program that teaches families lessons such as how to eat healthy on a budget. Running after school, parents and kids can come by to learn to prepare a nutrient-dense meal they can eat together as a family — with a bag full of groceries to take home for the week.

For more information, contact the Community Outreach Department at (540) 332-4190.