West virginia NEWS

Kanawha Diabetes Coalition Needs Community's Insights to Assess Food Access and Shopping Habits after Flood

At the end of August, the small town of Clendenin and surrounding communities like Elkview will be the subject of an intensive study into residents’ preferences, habits, and challenges when it comes to shopping and eating healthy. In partnership with A Healthy Clendenin, the Kanawha Diabetes Coalition (KDC) will hold focus groups, inventory healthy food opportunities at a range of local markets, and survey shoppers and pedestrians. 
DiabetesCoalitionLogoKDC’s goal: to find out what Clendenin has, wants, and needs when it comes to available, affordable nutrition. Community members who live in and around Clendenin and who are interested in sharing their experiences and opinions should call (304) 709-6667 or visit surveymonkey.com/r/clendeninwv before August 24. Those recruited will participate in an August 30 focus group taking place from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Clendenin branch of the Kanawha Public Library.
The study marks the first major initiative by KDC. Though that’s a brand-new organization, founded in May 2018, it has already attracted more than 130 individual members representing more than 60 Kanawha County organizations and a wide range of sectors, from health care and health insurance to economic development, agriculture, and the public schools, to name a few. 
KDC owes its existence to the 2017 community health assessment conducted by the Kanawha Coalition for Community Health Improvement (KCCHI), a partnership between county hospitals and other stakeholders in Kanawha’s wellness. The 2017 assessment revealed that diabetes had emerged for the first time as one of the top three areas of concern for county residents, along with obesity and substance abuse. 
In response to that finding, KCCHI executive director Judy Crabtree brought together the largest and most diverse group of concerned community members she could organize in order to promote innovative, collaboration-driven solutions to the Type 2 diabetes epidemic in Kanawha County.
“When we launched the Kanawha Diabetes Coalition, one priority was making sure that we concentrated not only on the challenges of diabetes prevention and management in Charleston, where many of us are headquartered, but also on the barriers and opportunities in our outlying rural communities,” says Crabtree. “We asked Cabin Creek Health Systems for their insight into a small town that might be right for a study like this, and right away they said, ‘Clendenin.’ Before the flood, Clendenin arguably had somewhat reasonable access to healthy food, while now getting fresh produce and other nutritious groceries is more of a challenge for people there. That suggested that Clendeninites would be in the unique position of being able to tell us about how their experiences before and after 2016 compare with each other.”
Crabtree adds, “Clendenin is also a place with a highly engaged and active local government, a place rich in community champions to whom we can present the results of the first stage of our study and say, ‘Here’s what we learned. Now what does Clendenin want to do with this information and how can we help?’”
The Clendenin community assessment is spearheaded by KDC members representing Cabin Creek Health Systems, the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, Quality Insights, the American Heart Association, the WVU School of Public Health, the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy, the Marshall University Department of Dietetics, and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR). A DHHR grant funds the assessment and other projects statewide that aim to improve diabetes prevention measures. 
Those who participate in the August 30 focus group will receive lunch and a small token of appreciation and will be entered in the drawing for one of several grand prizes, including two Cozyna air fryers as well as $50-$100 gift cards provided by Anytime Fitness, the assessment’s premier sponsor. 
In addition to conducting the focus group, KDC will be out on sidewalks and in parking lots around the area on August 24, 25, and 26, asking people to take brief surveys about how and where they shop for food. Those who participate in the surveys can help themselves to various thank-you gifts that include Anytime Fitness guest passes.
KDC encourages anyone with questions or comments about the study or about diabetes and healthy eating in Kanawha County to contact AmeriCorps VISTA community health organizer Micky Morrissette at kanawha.diabetes@gmail.com.
The Kanawha Diabetes Coalition is a project of the Kanawha Coalition for Community Health Improvement. Defy the diagnosis.
For more information, contact Micky Morrissette at (845) 417-7275 or micky.wv.vista@gmail.com.