(SAVANNAH, GA) Healthy Savannah is scheduling three listening sessions to receive community input from residents of Garden City, Thunderbolt and Georgetown in helping redesign the Savannah-Chatham Food Policy Council. The first upcoming meeting, which is free and open to the public, is planned for Tuesday, April 12, from 6:00-7:30 p.m. at Garden City Cooper Center, 700 Davis Ave, Savannah GA 31408.
Details for the Georgetown and Thunderbolt meetings will be announced on Healthy Savannah’s Facebook page and website. The Georgetown meeting is tentatively scheduled for 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 19 and the Thunderbolt meeting is tentatively scheduled for 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 26.
Healthy Savannah advocates and partners are working to re-establishing the Food Policy Council as more of a local and regional food system that provides improved access to a variety of affordable, nourishing foods.
“The Food Policy Council should become more community-led in order to be more effective and inclusive,” said Armand Turner, physical activity program manager. “It should serve across sectors and be capable of advancing meaningful policy change and accomplishing major improvements in our local food system.”
Last summer, Healthy Savannah held its first three sessions to receive input from eastside, westside and southside residents of Savannah. The upcoming meetings will gather input from Chatham County residents living beyond Savannah’s city limits.
It is estimated that 35,000 people in the Savannah area live more than a mile from a grocery store. In Chatham County, 17.6% of all residents are food insecure and 21.8% of children are food insecure.
“Food insecurity persists in the metropolitan areas of Savannah but also throughout less populated areas of Chatham County,” said Paula Kreissler,” executive director of Healthy Savannah.” This is why we need a Food Policy Council that is trusted by, connected to, and empowered by community residents.”
Approximately 45% or 129,698 of the almost 290,000 people living in Chatham County live more than a mile from the closest grocery store, according to a 2021 study, “Food Deserts in Chatham County, Georgia.” The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines a food desert as a region where the people who live there have limited access to healthy and affordable food, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. The USDA considers urban areas where 33% of the population lives more than 1 mile from the nearest large grocery store as food deserts.
“Our hope is to re-establish a Food Policy Council that can really weigh in on the issues and barriers that deter access to healthy foods,” said Turner. “It might mean ensuring healthier options for children at area schools or providing more options at the corner stores in our communities.”
ABOUT THE YMCA OF COASTAL GEORGIA/HEALTHY SAVANNAH GRANT FOR RACIAL AND ETHNIC APPROACHES TO COMMUNITY HEALTH: In September 2018, Healthy Savannah and the YMCA of Coastal Georgia were awarded a five-year, $3.4 million grant called Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health. Awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the funding is being deployed in an “upstream” approach by the Savannah/Chatham County project team to foster sustainable health equity among Black residents in low-wealth neighborhoods. The aim of the local project, called Healthy Opportunities Powering Equity, or HOPE, is to increase the availability of high-quality nutrition; promote physical activity through creating greater access to safe places to walk, run, bike and play; and foster stronger connections between people and the healthcare providers who serve them. Working with more than 200 community partners and organizations, the team is committed to elevating the health and wellness of the community through policy, systems, and environmental change. In July 2022, Healthy Savannah received the CDC’s 2022 REACH Lark Galloway-Gilliam Award for Advancing Health Equity Challenge. The award recognizes extraordinary individuals and entities whose work has contributed to advancing health equity.
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