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$650,000 grant to expand nutrition, health and wellness services

Beaufort County Healthy Clergy, Congregations and Communities, an extension of Cornerstone Family Worship Center Community Based Programs, has received a grant in the amount $650,000 from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust to help address issues of food access, health and wellness throughout Beaufort County.

“We are grateful and humbled to have received the grant from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust to help our citizens,” said Bishop James McIntyre, lead pastor of Cornerstone Church and CEO of Cornerstone Community Based Programs. “We especially want to thank Adam Linker of the Trust for all his support, time and efforts for positive change in people’s lives here in our county.”

The grant will allow BCH3C to supplement the existing summer feeding program currently operated by Beaufort County Schools and will fund the creation of new community hubs at locations in Aurora, Chocowinity, Pantego/Belhaven, Blounts Creek and Washington. Those locations will provide access to food, health resources and information on fitness and wellness for local residents.

While the effort will be spearheaded by BCH3C, a number of community partners will play a role in making it a reality. Food Bank of the Albemarle will play a key role in setting up food pantries at the community hub locations. BCH3C will also work with community partners such as Vidant Beaufort Hospital, Beaufort County Department of Social Services and the Beaufort County Health Department, all of which will provide information and resources for the initiative.

“Beaufort County Health Department will facilitate the Eat Smart, Move More programs at each of the community hubs, which will build on knowledge around healthy eating and active living year-round,” read a press release from BCH3C. “Vidant Beaufort Hospital will conduct health screening at each of the community hubs to assist individuals with personal physical wellness. Collaborations with Healthy Eating and Active Living will also take place to discuss various subjects that promote good quality of life for county citizens.”

The idea is to use data gathered at each of the community hub locations to show gaps in services for healthy food and active living. Over time, the plan is to add more community hubs throughout the county, with the idea of becoming sustainable and addressing those needs.

“People’s choices about what to eat are severely limited by the options available to them and what they can afford,” said Shirley Roberson, manager of Cornerstone Community Based Programs. “Some parents are more likely to buy a ‘four for $4 meal deal’ or a reasonable bag special before they buy fresh fruits and vegetables. For several reasons, these options are cheaper and more convenient. This grant will make an impact for the children and families of Beaufort County by providing nutritious meals, foods and resources pertaining to healthy lifestyles during the summer months and throughout the year in areas that are most needed. Food is power, so why not empower as many families as possible?”

Throughout the year and leading up to the summer months, BCH3C will promote and implement healthy eating and active living educational opportunities for families. The plan is to conduct sessions targeting parents and caregivers for the purpose of providing information and resources addressing healthy lifestyles. From a pastor’s point of view, providing such community outreach is part of the church’s duty.

“Our biggest ministry is in the marketplace, and that’s beyond our four walls,” McIntyre said. “Many times, we can have tunnel vision, where we look at taking care of the people in those four walls. But the ministry of Christ was not always in the synagogue. In fact, most of the time, it wasn’t in the synagogue. It was out in the hedges in the highway. If we’re going to do ministry, it’s got to be in the marketplace, because that’s where the people are.”

For the past 15 years, Cornerstone has focused its attention on meeting some of the needs of people in the community. The ministry is committed to making a lasting impact in the lives of the county citizens through its community programs. Cornerstone has served families of Beaufort County through its 21st Century After Schools programs, Nurturing parenting skills courses, Healthy Clergy, Congregations and Communities initiatives and its Parents’ Support Groups program. Cornerstone Community Based Programs and BCH3C have been a part of Beaufort County for more than a decade, providing after school and fitness programs, and nurturing parenting skills, health and wellness.

The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust was established in 1947 and is now one of the largest private trusts in North Carolina. The Trust’s mission is to improve the health and quality of life of residents with low incomes in North Carolina. The Health Improvement in North Carolina program are supports community-wide health solutions across the state. The Local Impact in Forsyth County program area fosters equitable and sustainable solutions to ensure everyone in Forsyth County thrives. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. serves as the sole trustee.