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San Bernardino County seeks to engage faith community in boosting residents’ health

By in Press Enterprise on February 1, 2018

By Jim Steinberg

SAN BERNARDINO >> The San Bernardino County Public Health Department is reaching out to the faith community to help raise residents’ overall health.

“Faith-based organizations are embedded in the historical and cultural fabric of our communities,” Donna Panganiban, a county nutritionist, said Wednesday in San Bernardino. “They often have the trust and profound understanding of the unique needs of the community they serve.”

To help more churches understand the health needs of their members, professionals in the county’s nutrition program unveiled the first “State of Health Church Survey” Wednesday at Ecclesia Christian Fellowship Church, 1314 E. Date St., in San Bernardino.

The church has had a health mission for about a decade, which includes frequent health fairs and educational classes, said Joshua Beckley, senior pastor.

County officials hope word about the survey will encourage more faith-based organizations to launch health-focused initiatives.

While only 367 adult church members in 11 churches participated in the first survey questionnaire, county nutrition officials hope more organizations will participate in next year’s survey, as their leadership comes to understand its benefits.

Responses primarily came in churches located in San Bernardino, Rialto and Fontana, said Teslyn Henry-King, nutrition program coordinator. Next year, the county hopes the geographic area will be greatly expanded to include the High Desert and west end communities, she said.

The majority of the respondents were between 36 and 60 years-old. Seventy-six percent were African-Americans.

“Faith-based organizations can be effective venues for providing interventions that help reverse chronic disease trends that plague their members and the community,” Panganiban said.

The report is designed to give each organization a report on what health issues plague its membership, said Rev. Bronica Martindale, a county nutrition program health educator.

The survey identified prevalences of many chronic diseases higher than the national average.

For example, in the category of obesity and overweight, the national prevalence is 70 […]    

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