December 19, 2014 | By: Katie Pratt
Springfield, Ky.

Good things can happen when community agencies come together.

That rings true in Washington County, where a group called Washington on Wellness leverages community agencies to improve the health and wellness of county residents. The wellness coalition began with the county health department and Cabrina Buckman, the county’s family and consumer sciences agent with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.

“Part of our goal is to work smarter rather than harder,” Buckman said. “We knew all agencies had services to offer to our community. Our idea was to combine those services to do a greater good.”

Recently, the wellness coalition and community volunteers partnered to distribute food to the county’s low-income residents.

By partnering with several agencies including the office of the county judge executive, local health department, Community Action Kentucky and Feeding America, Kentucky Heartland, the group recently was able to deliver several food programs at the county’s recycling center.

“With all of these agencies in one place, it’s a great way for them to provide services to underserved individuals or educate them about the services that are available within their own community,” said Milissa French, director of agency services and programs at Feeding America, Kentucky Heartland. “At Feeding America, Kentucky Heartland, we’ve been trying to encourage communities to offer mass food distribution sites like this one to low-income clients so we can serve more people in a faster and safer manner.”

The large food distribution was something Tiffany Wheatley, county coordinator for Community Action Kentucky, said she couldn’t do alone. Before the mass distribution effort, low-income seniors were coming to her office to get commodity boxes, but due to their location on a narrow street with little parking, getting necessities for some was resulting in fender benders and was dangerous to pedestrians.

In the new distribution method, low-income seniors and other qualifying adults drive into the recycling center, where community volunteers load food boxes into their cars.

“We’ve always done commodity boxes for seniors but never to this extent,” Wheatley said. “Today we’ve had more than 130 families who have received food.”

Coalition members plan on distributing food from this location once a month for at least the next year, if not longer.

The food distribution site is just one example of how the wellness coalition is helping Washington County residents improve all aspects of their health. The coalition has also contributed to Relay For Life and created a program called Halloween in the Park that was designed to promote a strong community, physical activity and social wellness for participants.

“It’s great to be in a community where people care enough to contribute to these efforts,” Buckman said.

Contact: 

Cabrina Buckman, 859-336-7741