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AHA improves the health and well-being of Wake County residents by facilitating and supporting community initiatives.

Perspectives: April 2014

Sara Merz, Director

Sara Merz, Director

What a month! I’m in an information-gathering stage, and there is so much to learn about who is doing what work, and where AHA can best be part of both supporting and sometimes spearheading that work. Here’s a brief look at some of my exploration and learning since last month’s article.

  • AHA signed onto the North Carolina Alliance for Health’s proposal to the legislature to promote healthy and local foods through its corner store initiative.
  • I met with a couple of elected officials (Morrisville and Zebulon) to learn about their interest in health (shout out to Zebulon Mayor Bob Matheny for the visionary transportation plan he’s been promoting).
  • We are preparing to celebrate our 2014 Brains and Bodies Award winners, along with Wellness Star winners, at a ceremony on April 25 and look forward to Wake County Public Schools Board Chair Christine Kushner joining us to present those awards.
  • I attended the national Food Hub Collaboration Conference in Raleigh along with other AHA partners. Take a look at some of my thoughts about that.
  • I spent time at Raleigh City Farm learning about their Farm to Table work with local restaurants and efforts to support local farmers.
  • I was honored to get to speak at the first Jamie Kirk Hahn Foundation dialogue about AHA and its policy, systems and environmental change work to increase access to healthy food in Wake County.
  • I ate a school lunch and learned about local foods efforts and possibilities in Wake County schools;
  • I was honored to join the Growers Market of Fuquay-Varina  as they were recognized with a N.C.  Main Street award for work to implement acceptance of EBT/Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits through AHA’s USDA grant. In conjunction with their other efforts, the market increased sales by over 10% last year! Check out this News & Observer article from last week, which also highlighted AHA and its partners’ work, as well as the successes at the market.
  • I toured Southeast Raleigh with Alexander YMCA’s Dexter Hebert, Associate Executive Director, Southeast Raleigh, learning about health work around physical activity and healthy eating.
  • I participated in discussions of a local food policy task force here in Wake County, as is happening in many parts of North Carolina.
  • I helped 300 elementary school students and track-out campers interview a gardener, a dietitian and a stalk of wheat (Kernel Wheat in costume from Great Harvest Bread Co.) about food choices and how they affect our health after they watched “What’s on Your Plate?” at a free field trip event AHA and Town of Cary hosted. (You’re invited to come April 24 for a second screening.)
  • Our Community Connections Work Group finalized its Safe Routes to School prioritization tool; read a bit more about that here. I am so excited about our work with this tool to create change in Wake County where more students are actively moving to and from school!

These are just a few of the things we’ve been up to. I’ve been having great conversations with partners and other organizations about their work and our shared efforts. The challenge is learning and integrating, making the connections, seeing where AHA has fit in in the past, and where our efforts are best spent this year. I’m looking forward to our Quarterly Meeting on May 9th to continue the conversation!

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