The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC


December 9, 2013

Collards help church spread healthy message

TARBORO — PINETOPS — For at least eight years, the Rev. Richard Joyner has literally preached the importance of healthy eating and health care to his Conetoe Chapel Church congregation. Through his non-profit organization, the Conetoe Family Life Center, Joyner ventured outside of his congregation with the same message Saturday at Pine Chapel Missionary Baptist Church.

However, Saturday's venture did not include a verbal message, but instead a free food giveaway and health screening. Conetoe Family Life Center (CFLC) organized its first of 15 Faith Base Transitional Health Care event at Pine Chapel Saturday. More than 75 people and a dozen vendors, including Vidant Edgecombe Hospital, attended the event.

"What we're doing is addressing a couple of issues at one time," Joyner said. "One of them is Edgecombe County is a food dessert. The other thing is, we have challenges in health care everywhere in Edgecombe County. Our goal is to decrease social frailties that we find out about Edgecombe County on North Carolina report cards. When that report card comes out about North Carolina again, we won't be 99th worse. We will be the best."

The fresh vegetables came from CFLC youth who grew nine acres of collards, cabbages and salad greens in their garden in Conetoe. Non-pershialbe food was donated by N.C. Food Bank and Wal-Mart and Tarboro Piggly Wiggy also donated items.

Participants were asked to visit as many vendor stations as they possibly could. After the final station, they were given a box of non-perishable items and collards.

The most visited vendor was Vidant Edgecombe health screening station where participants blood pressure and blood sugar levels were checked. Ronnie Davis, 53, of Pinetops, visited that station where results showed his blood sugar level was below normal — 44. The nurses gave Davis a bottle of orange juice and advised him to drink it. After drinking the juice, he stayed at the station until his sugar level reached 91. Davis is a diabetic.

Jerome Bacon III, Vidant Edgecombe Hospital exercise physiologist, said there could be many other who have the disease and not diagnosed.

"So many people in our communities seems not to go to the doctor because they're scared of the outcome," said Jerome Bacon III, Vidant Edgecombe Hospital exercise physiologist. "That's why it is good to have health screening like this. It can detect conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure that go undetected because people don't go to the doctor to get checked out. People don't go to the doctor like they should."

Joyner said 58 area youths participate in the program which includes gardening and beekeeping.

Over the last few years, CFLC gardens have provided free vegetables to hundreds of Edgecombe County citizens.

"I believe this event is a very important event to bring forth health awareness," said 15-year-old Tobias Hopkins, CFLC gardner and certified beekeeper. "It is a great contribution that we gave donating our vegetables and donating our resources toward everyone in the community so that we can bring health awareness to all people in this community."

Betty Hines also of Pinetops, levels checked out to be normal. She liked the idea of the community food giveaway and health fair.

"I love it. It was a joyful experience," she said."

By the looks of Joyner, he, too, appeared to have deemed the even joyful. Now he has to plot of his plans for 15 more events.

"We are hoping to do 100 to 200 people at each health fair," he said with a smile. "With them we will take the surveys that each church will give us which will tell us what is the need of these community. In a real proactive way, we want to meet those needs. We want all the churches to get involved

Kevin Dickens, a member of Pine Chapel described the event as, "An awesome opportunity for us to get out and do something for the community and throughout the county. I'm glad that we were choosing first. if there were some kinks in it, they have a chance to get them out using what happen here today."



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