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New project promotes wellness through healthy eating

Barb Johnston relies on close to a dozen medications and oxygen assistance to help her get through the day. She battles high cholesterol, high blood pressure and kidney disease. While her doctor told her to eat low sodium and low fat foods, she is now taking her efforts to stay healthy a step further with the help of Catholic Charities’ new Wellness Works Project.

Along with more than 150 people who have participated since July, Barb has found help determining which particular foods are good and which are harmful for her health conditions.

“It’s very beneficial,” Barb says. “I’ve incorporated the information into my daily diet. The information I was given was very specific and outstanding. It lists all of the different types of food, such as those that have lower sodium versus higher sodium.”

“I’m making better choices for myself,” she adds.

Catholic Charities launched the Wellness Works Project in response to a recent Richland County Community Health Assessment, which showed the most widespread health issues are heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer. Other common conditions are digestive disorders, asthma and allergies.

The project helps Richland County residents better understand how their diet affects their health. Trained volunteers from the medical field interview clients and provide guidance in adopting healthy eating habits related to their health conditions. The goal is to help clients reduce dependency on medication and prevent the onset of further health problems.

“Each month when clients come in we’ll do a follow-up,” says Laurie Hamrick, case manager. “Did they reduce their weight? Go off their meds? Is their blood pressure or cholesterol lower?”

Future plans include nutrition classes and cooking demonstrations using ingredients from Catholic Charities’ H.O.P.E. Food Pantry. Hamrick anticipates the program could serve up to 500 people by the end of the year.

Catholic Charities would like to thank the generous donors in the Mansfield area who helped fund the Wellness Works Project. Special thanks goes to Earl Hawkins, who along with his wife Betty, co-founded Hawkins Markets.

Catholic Charities is also promoting wellness by asking people to donate food to the H.O.P.E. Pantry based on nutritional value. For a list of current needs at the pantry, please call 419-524-0733 or visit www.catholiccharitiesnwo.org.

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“The information I was given was very specific and outstanding. It lists all of the different types of food, such as those that have lower sodium versus higher sodium.” ~ Barb Johnston

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Catholic Charities makes real the love God has for each individual regardless of faith or background, by serving the poor, speaking for and assisting the neglected and forgotten, respecting and promoting life from beginning to end, and nurturing and supporting individuals and families.

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