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Food and health awareness provided during Drive-thru Winter Festival

Dr. Lamonte Williams (left) stands with Rev. James Cook during the drive-thru festival.

Food and health awareness provided during Drive-thru Winter Festival
December 23
11:11 2020

Wake Forest Baptist Health (WFBH) held a Drive-thru Winter Festival at St. Stephens Missionary Baptist Church last week that included a food giveaway, along with educating the community on the affects of memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease.

This was the fourth time WFBH has held this style of event across the Triad area. The festival was the idea of Dr. Lamonte Williams, grassroots engagement specialist for WFBH, and he says he was been “working on this model for several months.”

“What we have tried to do is figure out how can we continue to engage our community and still be COVID sensitive,” said Williams. “This model of a winter drive-thru festival has proven to be absolutely respondent to our community.”

The purpose of the festival is to increase awareness of memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease to the community.  WFBH has also collaborated with the Alzheimer’s Association for the U.S. Pointer Study, which is a two-year study on brain health, along with the Maya Angelou Center, which also has a memory loss study.

“What we are looking to do is find community volunteers to participate in a lifestyle change study, so no medications,” said Elizabeth Chmelo of WFBH. “We are hoping to find prevention through making healthy lifestyle changes like diet and exercise and things like that.

“Today was a good opportunity to be in the community to stand with our other partners and see if folks are interested in learning more about the U.S. Pointer Study.”

In the study, the volunteers will have several dietary and exercise changes that will hopefully affect the probability of developing memory loss or Alzheimer’s.

“Most of the things we know what we should be doing, we just need more accountability in doing them,” she continued. “Making healthy diet changes like less processed food, lower sodium, more green vegetables, higher protein, less red meat, so all things we should know, we just don’t love to do them.

“We ask people to be more physically active, so we are recommending the 150 minutes of activity a week doing some strength training, some range of motion, some stretch and balance, things again we should be doing, but don’t ever get to it. And we want them to stay socially and cognitively engaged like joining a book club or helping out in your church, which is really important for brain health.”

According to Williams, WFBH needs volunteers for the study, but realized there was a real need to feed the community due to food insecurities that plague many families in the Triad area.  

“We tried to figure out how we can offer them something related to their health, but also respond to the social drivers like food insecurity,” Williams said.  

Alzheimer’s disease disproportionately affects the African American community more than any other, so Williams felt it was very important that the community participates in the study so that trend can be reversed.

“I have to say thank you to everyone that responded to the event,” he said. “It’s been exciting, and it has exceeded my expectations. I knew that we would have a line, but I had no idea it would be consistent the entire time. We have had all ethnicities here as well and that’s what this is about.”

Rev. James Cook, senior pastor of St. Stephens Missionary Baptist Church, was elated to host the event. Cook says he has had a long-standing relationship with Williams and when he was presented with the opportunity to assist, he gladly accepted.

“We are serious about mission work as it relates to making the grace of God visible,” said Cook. “Our mantra here is if we can’t positively impact the community, then our church is of no service. We are excited to partner and collaborate with Dr. Williams and others. I think the greatest feeling in the world is to give. We are created in the image of God and God is a giver and it’s about giving.”

Bishop Freddie Marshall, senior pastor of Christ Cathedral, is one of the community partners that has been involved with all four of the festivals. He wanted to become involved because he saw the need for assistance.

“We have been servicing communities throughout the Triad and providing what I believe is a most immediate and essential need and that is food,” said Marshall. “A lot of our communities are in what we call food deserts and during this pandemic we have seen African American families, our elderly, as well as single parent homes disproportionately affected by what is happening around us.

“It was important for me to engage our church and to engage as many volunteers as possible. We put out a clarion call that we needed volunteers and they responded. The study is important, but getting food into these homes was as well.  People left these parking lots today in tears, because they have another week that they don’t have to worry about food on their tables.

Williams stated they had over 60 volunteers sign up for the study at this event alone. His hope is that more people continue to participate as it may lead to a cure to Alzheimer’s sooner than later.

The study is looking for volunteers age 60-79 who may be at risk for memory loss. For more information about the study, please contact Wake Forest Baptist Health at 833-361-7591 or at pointerstudy@nullwakehealth.edu.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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