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Healthy Savannah Releases Results of Community Feedback on Healthy Food Access, Physical Activity Opportunities and Community Resources at Quarterly Stakeholders Meeting

(Savannah, Ga.) Healthy Savannah presented the results of its 2023 community survey, along with key findings in areas of physical activity, nutrition, breastfeeding, adult immunization/vaccination and communications at the organization’s Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) Stakeholders’ meeting. Approximately 40 key stakeholders attended the event on May 22, representing organizations, governmental agencies and businesses dedicated to improving health equity.

“The stakeholders turned out for this event in big numbers because they care about the future of our community,” said Paula Kreissler, Healthy Savannah’s executive director.

Kreissler opened the meeting with a presentation on a national training program developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) entitled “Leading the Charge for a Healthier Nation.”

“Many of the takeaways from this interactive, in-depth training and shared learning experience are high leverage and relevant to the key stakeholders and our future work,” said Kreissler. “The goal of this training is to enhance our stakeholders’ abilities to successfully implement their work to achieve maximum impact for health equity in our community.”

The Healthy Savannah team outlined aspects of the CDC program that foster supporting and building leadership in young people, developing cultural humility and/or cultural competency, and encouraging the importance of communication.

Healthy Savannah’s 2023 community survey findings were also presented at the meeting and revealed that a majority of respondents answering questions about physical activity indicated they would use bike or walking paths such as the Tide to Town urban trail system to get to work, school and shopping or for recreation.

This is 10% higher than last year’s responses and could be attributed to increased education about physical activity, programs like the weekly Healthy Walks and Active People Healthy Savannah, and infrastructure improvements such as bike lanes and sidewalks.

In the area of nutrition, fewer respondents used SNAP in 2023 than the year before (36% vs 48%) but more reported eating fresh fruit (51%) and vegetables (59%) daily over the previous year and more than half (53%) said those items were always available at their house. More than half also indicated that supportive breastfeeding policies (54%) and places to breastfeed (52%) are extremely important.

Regarding communication efforts, a majority wanted to learn about healthy living, health services, and policies from social media (42%) and email newsletters (38%). But many had not used available resource directories including 211 (64%), 311 (61%), and (71%). Of those who had used the resources, fewer than 20% had found any of them helpful, pointing to a need for expansion of awareness of those services.

The organization has gathered community feedback on healthy food and active living preferences, knowledge and behaviors for over 10 years.

During 2023, there were a total of 790 surveys completed. This was also the first year that the survey was offered in Spanish. Healthy Savannah staff and volunteers collected survey responses at a variety of events and locations throughout the year.

Healthy Savannah also presented landscape assessments compiled over the past six months relating to physical activity, adult immunization, breastfeeding and nutrition/food access in the Savannah area. Resources contributing to the landscape assessments included community feedback, governmental and community partners as well as observational data. The group discussed the impact of the Tide to Town Trail development on physical activity, the effectiveness of the Community Health Advocate program in increasing vaccine awareness and acceptance, the need for more lactation support in the workplace and whether food pantries and access points overlap consistently with community needs.

The stakeholders were also asked to brainstorm ideas for reaching new goals over the next three years and what their organizations could do to help achieve those goals.

Healthy Savannah works and collaborates with nearly 200 organizations across Savannah to complete big-picture policy, systems, and environmental change work. Healthy Savannah has created a true coalition through these partnerships, paving the way for meaningful work under the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) grant and developing connections among stakeholders. The organization’s ability to form partnerships with individuals and organizations dedicated to building a culture of health in Savannah has enabled Healthy Savannah to foster and sustain individual and united goals. The success of Healthy Savannah’s stakeholder engagement is evident in the relationships the organization has cultivated with its REACH partners and in relationships amongst the partners themselves. They have formed stronger connections, discovered new ways to work together, and used their unique strategies, resources, and funding streams to better serve the priority populations. For more information, visit

The program is funded in part by the Centers for Disease Control’s Racial and Ethnical Approach to Community Health (REACH) grant. For more information and to view Healthy Savannah’s 2023 community survey report, email Paula Kreissler at

Approximately 40 key stakeholders met to discuss the findings of Healthy Savannah’s 2023 community survey on May 22 at the organization’s Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) Stakeholders’ meeting.

In September 2023, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention awarded a second grant called Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) to Healthy Savannah and the YMCA of Coastal Georgia. $5.1 million in funding is being deployed over a five-year period to be utilized in an “upstream” approach to foster sustainable health equity among racial and ethnic minority populations in low-wealth neighborhoods in areas of nutrition, physical activity and the reduction of chronic diseases. The renewed funding enables work to continue which began under the initial, five-year, $3.4 million REACH grant awarded in 2018, and a supplemental grant awarded in 2021 to increase awareness and acceptance of COVID-19 and flu adult immunizations. Working with more than 200 community partners and organizations, the Savannah/Chatham County project team’s specific goals in implementing the new five-year grant include fostering physical activity by creating greater access to safe places to walk, run, bike and play; elevating the health and wellness of the community through policy, systems, and environmental change; and providing education and awareness regarding adult immunizations, especially as they relate to health disparities in chronic conditions of hypertension, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and obesity. The administrators will also continue to foster stronger connections between people and the healthcare providers who serve them by supporting awareness and use of the HERO Help Me database. In July 2022, Healthy Savannah received the CDC’s 2022 REACH Lark Galloway-Gilliam Award for Advancing Health Equity Challenge. The award recognizes extraordinary individuals and entities whose work has contributed to advancing health equity.

Marjorie Young
Carriage Trade Public Relations® Inc.

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