Workplace Wellness Focus of Challenge
The partners at Sandhills Pediatrics practice what they preach.
For the past three years, they have been paying for Sandhills Farm to Table (SF2T) biweekly produce box subscriptions for their entire 50-plus staff in Southern Pines, Seven Lakes and Raeford.
“We tell our patients to eat more fruits and veggies and less processed foods every single day,” Dr. Christoph Diasio said. “We look at this as a way to say that we are walking the walk.”
This year, Sandhills Pediatrics teamed with SF2T to issue a workplace wellness challenge to businesses in Moore County: “Enrich your business and employee health with produce box subscriptions.”
Fenton Wilkinson, general manager of SF2T, said the challenge was a success because more than 150 employees at six entities are now receiving produce boxes subsidized by their employers.
“I think it went really, really well for being the first year,” Wilkinson said. “I’m hoping with some publicity and education on how it works, we can expand the program.”
SF2T offered businesses the options of taking the same approach as Sandhills Pediatrics, subsidizing the $25 SF2T membership for employees, and/or allowing for pay-as-you-eat payroll deduction payments for employees purchasing produce box subscriptions.
FirstHealth of the Carolinas, the county’s largest employer, offered to pay the membership fee, allow for payroll deduction and have on-campus pickup. Ninety employees at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst and 10 at FirstHealth Richmond Memorial Hospital in Rockingham decided to participate.
“I delivered 95 boxes to FirstHealth yesterday,” Wilkinson said Friday.
The challenge is an example to Wilkinson of the “win-win-win” situation that SF2T is trying to foster in Moore County.
“It helps our farmers, it enhances employee health and it helps lower health care costs for businesses,” he said.
Farmers benefit because, as a general rule, they receive 70 cents on the dollar when they sell directly to consumers versus about 17 cents if they go through a distributor.
Employees will likely eat more fruits and vegetables, and feel healthier, while making a significant contribution to the county’s agricultural economy, according to a SF2T survey of 2011 subscribers in which 304 people responded.
The survey found that 89 percent of respondents ate more fruits and vegetables, 88 percent felt healthier, 78 percent cooked at home more, 58 percent shopped more at local farmers markets, and 55 percent shopped more at farm stands and pick-it-yourself places.
The survey also asked parents to gauge the response of their children to the produce boxes. Eighty-three percent said their children ate more fruits and vegetables, 79 percent showed more interest in knowing about fruits and vegetables, and 78 percent looked forward to getting the produce box.
“I’m pleased with the survey results, especially as they pertain to children and their attitude towards fruits and vegetables,” Wilkinson said.
He added that leading by example shows genuine commitment and leadership, as only some 19 percent of North Carolina residents eat the recommended five or more fruits and vegetables a day.
North Carolina adults rank 14th highest in the nation for obesity and 10th highest in the nation for hypertension, according to the 2011 study “F is for Fat.”
Patrick Coughlin, president and CEO of the Moore County Chamber of Commerce, said the challenge was an important first step in helping to turn the tide.
“Company profitability and longevity are directly related to employee health,” Coughlin said.
To learn more about the challenge, email Wellness@SandhillsFarm2 Table.com.
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at (910) 693-2474 or email@example.com.
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