The Eat Smart, Move More group of Newberry County is making strides for a healthier county.
At their monthly meeting on Thursday, Mac Russell, chair of the Fairfield County Eat Smart, Move More group came to discuss how her group got started and what they tend to focus on.
Russell is a dietitian for Fairfield County Memorial Hospital and when she came on board, the Fairfield group was actually already established but she was able to keep the momentum going and get grants coming for the organization.
Russell stated that an action plan is key and policy is important to keep up. For example, if there is a community event and food is to be provided by some group, the food should be along healthy guidelines since the Eat Smart, Move More is about healthy eating among other things.
“Our action plan is what we live by,” said Russell, who adds that they aim to be community focused.
A big part of what the Fairfield group focuses on are the schools.
While they focus on the community and reaching out everywhere, a big part of their outreach has been in the schools especially with the CATCH program. CATCH stands for Coordinated Approach to Child Health.
Russell says they have been lucky to receive grants throughout the years because of the higher cost of the program. While they are not big grants, they do help out, she points out.
In the past five to six years, they have managed to get at least a couple grants per year, she says, adding that because of Fairfield’s smaller size they try to piggyback off the previous grants.
The CATCH program is now available for preschool through eighth graders, but Russell mentions that this was no overnight success story.
“You can’t expect things to work out overnight,” she says, stating they started in 2007.
In addition to the CATCH program, they have had wellness programs for staff members in the schools.
Another thing the Fairfield group does is something called B543210 and she explains that their message is, “Can you be 5-4-3-2-1-0?”
The numbers coordinate with eating the right foods and getting enough activity.
Russell does add that Fairfield was the first county in the state to do CATCH, a fact that she is proud to tell.
Russell advises working on one thing at a time and to also keep at the grant applications.
While the Fairfield group is up and running according to Russell, the process was slow and sometimes they felt defeated.
While Russell notes that having CATCH is a positive thing, it is not aligned with state standards which can prove difficult at times. She notes that the physical education teachers love it though.
Towards the end of the meeting, one of the Newberry Eat Smart, Move More members Joe Belyusar wanted members to head to the state’s Eat Smart, Move More website and see what ideas pop out to them and what’s interesting.
He also noted that there are plenty of ideas roaming around and one of them being a body mass index check at the hospital perhaps.