National Health Conference Highlights Savannah’s REACH Grant Initiatives

Staff Report

Friday, May 13th, 2022

Three representatives of the Savannah area initiative funded by the CDC’s Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) Grant were featured presenters at the 2022 National Health Outreach Conference held May 4-6 in Kansas City, Missouri.
Elise Smalls, PhD, and Nichele Hoskins of Healthy Savannah, and Virginia Dick, PhD, an evaluation consultant working alongside Healthy Savannah and the YMCA, joint administrators of the REACH grant in Savannah and Chatham County, addressed conference attendees on how the grant funds are making a difference for local priority populations.
“I presented on the successful efforts of the Forsyth Farmers’ Market to connect farmers and community members, particularly those who are at high risk of food insecurity and nutrition insecurity. They also learned about the successes of our local Farm Truck 912 mobile farmers’ market and our Food Farmacy nutrition education program,” said Dick. “I answered questions and engaged with attendees from all over the country to share what we have learned in developing and implementing these programs. In addition, I gathered ideas about how to continue to expand what we are doing to better serve our communities and connect with and work with community members.”
Smalls and Hoskins spoke on utilizing the community engagement spectrum to address health equity and their development of a specialized training program for community members to address COVID-19 and flu vaccine access, awareness and acceptance in Chatham County’s priority neighborhoods.
“Our training program has so far enabled 35 Chatham County residents to reach deep into their own communities to hear concerns, perspectives and experiences with the COVID vaccine,” said Smalls. “We shared our findings with conference attendees about how a community-centric approach to outreach can strengthen trust for community organization and community needs.”