The Healthy Guilford Coalition has been working to make people in the county healthier just like the name says, and now that somewhat nebulas group of public and private partners is creating a director position, which will be funded in the first year by Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist and will be housed in Guilford County government.

Healthy Guilford attempts to improve nutrition and exercise habits of people in the county to prevent medical issues and other societal harms caused by malnutrition and inactivity.  It’s made up of two health systems and two departments of Guilford County government – as well as a host of community-based organizations that work to improve the overall well-being of residents across the county.

Currently, the Healthy Guilford Coalition has no staff and the workload has been increasing.  That’s why many group members now feel the need for a full-time executive director.

Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist is providing funding for the first year of the position, which will be placed organizationally under Guilford County’s NC Cooperative Extension Department since that branch of government already works on promoting healthier eating habits and food security.

The Healthy Guilford Coalition is now seeking funding from non-governmental sources to pay the director’s salary in future years.

The coalition has a special focus on low-income residents who often don’t have the same access to healthy food and the exercise options that others do.

The “core members” of the Healthy Guilford coalition are Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist and Cone Health, the Guilford County Division of Public Health and the Cooperative Extension, the Foundation for Healthy High Point and the Greater High Point Food Alliance.

 Many others are helping in the effort as well, including Senior Resources of Guilford County, the YWCA of High Point, Greensboro Parks and Recreation, Guilford County Parks and Recreation, Second Harvest Food Bank and the Cone Health Foundation.

The group’s core members and steering committee have decided it’s now time to hire a director and, this week, Guilford County is expected to accept $73,000 from Atrium Health to fund that position in its Cooperative Extension Department which is run out of the county’s Agricultural Center at 3309 Burlington Road Greensboro.

One reason the new director will focus on poorer neighborhoods is that, across Guilford County, there’s a 29-year difference in lifespans based on census tracts, which coalition members say highlights the “extreme health disparities among our community members.”

The new director is expected to pay a lot of attention to the 27260 zip code in High Point and the 27405 zip code in Greensboro since residents in those areas have displayed consistently higher rates of chronic diseases associated with malnutrition and a lack of exercise.