by Krystal E. Knight, MPH
Last Friday, NACHC took part in the annual Community Health Center Forum sponsored by Congressman Danny K. Davis (D-IL). The Forum was part of the Congressional Black Caucus’ 40th Annual Legislative Conference and was held here in D.C. at the Washington Convention Center.
NACHC joined the National Center for Health in Public Housing, the American Dietetic Association, and United Health Care on a panel describing a wide range of programs dedicated to addressing the obesity epidemic. Speaking on behalf of health centers on the panel was Karen van Unen, COO of DotWell—a partnership between Codman Square and Dorchester House health centers in Boston, MA. In her current role at DotWell, Karen is responsible for program development, operations management and partnership building of the health centers’ non-clinical community programming.
Karen did an amazing job of showcasing four programs at Codman Square and Dorchester House that are geared towards reducing the prevalence of obesity and encouraging healthier habits in the community:
1. FANtastic Kids – a pediatric weight management program that aims to stabilize children’s BMI, rather than stress weight loss. The kids meet for two hours, twice a week, for 12 weeks—the program, taught by peer leaders, consists of one hour of education surrounding healthy habits, and one hour of physical activity.
2. Eat Green, Save Green – this is a six-week fiscal management and nutrition course for adults. The program’s objectives include helping participants set new goals for healthy eating; make changes in the way participants prepare food; teach participants how financial planning can support healthy eating; show them that one can eat healthier and still save money, and; help participants create budgets for their households.
3. Healthworks at Codman Square – a 10,000 sq. ft. professional fitness center for women and children that can be paid for on a sliding fee scale! Physicians at the health centers are able to prescribe the fitness center for their patients, allowing the patients free membership for 3 months! So far 153 prescriptions have been written for the fitness center.
4. Farmer’s Market – each health center hosts a weekly farmer’s market with fresh and affordable food. The farmer’s markets accept both food stamps and WIC, and so far over 1,000 customers participate. The markets have sold over 10,000 lbs of produce!
Karen was a dynamic speaker, but it was clear that the true stars of the panel were the Community Health Centers and the great work they are doing in their communities to combat obesity. NACHC would like to sincerely thank Congressman Davis, a long-time health center supporter, for giving health centers the opportunity to showcase what they are doing for their patients on the ground level.