One of our core beliefs is that, in order for our organization to truly affect change in communities, we must reach people where they live, eat and work. A fairly recent comprehensive assessment in Tennessee determined Tennessee ranks in the bottom 10% of states in heart health. Widespread high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes coupled with low access to fresh foods and safe spaces for exercise challenge residents statewide, but the most alarming health outcomes are found in Memphis: rates of high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity are the highest of any urban area in the state.
The American Heart Association worked with local government, non-profits and health agencies in Memphis to comprehensively assess factors that are key to thriving communities: education, housing security, environment, income, safety, food security and life expectancy. The assessment spotlighted problems that need to be prioritized city-wide, but also pinpointed high-risk neighborhoods challenged by multiple factors, such as Frayser (zip code 38127).
Residents of Frayser grapple with poverty, food insecurity and low educational attainment. Forty-five percent (45%) of residents in this zip code live at 100% of poverty. Not surprisingly, almost 90% of children are eligible for free or reduced lunch at school and nearly 40% of residents depend on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. More than a quarter of the area’s low-income residents report that they struggle with low access to fresh foods at local corner stores. While high school graduation rates in Frayser dip below state averages, rates of obesity and diabetes surge significantly higher. Of the 4,083 adults using the neighborhood’s medical clinic, Christ Community Health Services, 50% have been diagnosed with high blood pressure but only 15% (294 people) are controlling it.
Our goals for Healthy Frayser are to:
1. Create a neighborhood that sustainably supports health for all its residents.
2. Empower residents with the resources and knowledge to lead healthy lives.
3. Increase health for underserved, low-income residents with fresh foods, exercise and science-based treatment of chronic conditions.
“Healthy Frayser” A Mini-Documentary:
We are currently working with local governments and other noteworthy national organizations to film, produce, then share a mini-documentary chronicling the entire project. We encourage you to check back periodically to obtain updates about the project and the forthcoming mini-documentary.