Team Snapshot: Nashville Church of Christ, Holmes County, OH

December 17, 2012


Public Health, Community

Shared By: Julie Eisen

US Region: East North Central

Progress/Status: Implementing

Reach: Local/Community

HRSA Region: Region 5

Team Snapshot:

Nashville Church of Christ

Healthy Weight Collaborative - Phase 2


By Julie Eisen

Meet the Team

Holmes County in HRSA Region 5Along with prayer and bible study, in the last year Nashville Church of Christ (NCOC) in Holmes County, Ohio has become a place to learn and practice healthy eating. Located in the heart of rural Amish Country, 63 percent of the county’s population is either overweight or obese. In early 2012, Brad Dodson, the minister at NCOC, saw this statistic reflected in the non-denominational church’s 200-person congregation, which led him to form Fit to Serve, a program to promote healthy living. Fit to Serve set the groundwork for the Holmes County Healthy Weight Collaborative team, which is targeting all NCOC congregants, ages 11-60.


Renee Spencer, Team Lead for the Nashville teamIn Holmes County, the high-starch, high-fat desserts associated with Amish cooking are celebrated throughout the community. “So much is centered around food in our area,” says Renee Spencer, MS, the team’s leader, an early intervention specialist for the county and a church congregant. “When we constantly serve indulgent foods at places like youth group, we are teaching our kids unhealthy eating behaviors. We are trying to change this by making healthful choices part of the culture of our church.”


Action Spotlight

One way the team is engaging congregants to take steps toward adopting better eating habits is by holding healthy cooking classes. At the classes, Spencer presents a slideshow on the importance of a healthy lifestyle and she explains the “Living Fit to Serve 5 2 1 Almost None” message. The message suggests a daily recommendation of five fruits or vegetables, two hours or less of screen time (including the computer and TV), one hour of physical activity and almost no sugar-sweetened beverages. If fewer than 12 people sign up, Spencer holds the classes at her home, which provides an intimacy she relishes. She and members of the team demonstrate how to make dishes like winter soups with substitutes for heavy cream, low-calorie casseroles and a variety of creative salads. Participants make the food themselves and finish the evening by sitting around her kitchen island and eating.

The Nashville team's 5210 messaging“This is my favorite way [to hold the classes],” says Spencer. “People ask tons of questions, laugh and share.It helps people move on their journey to changing food habits.”  


A key to successful behavior change is having a support network. “That is where I see the church really helping,” says Spencer.


So far the team has held five cooking classes. For 2013, the team looks forward to inviting local doctors to provide cooking demonstrations in a series called “Cooking with a Doc.”

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