Eastern Shore Healthy Communities

Eastern Shore Healthy Communities (ESHC), a coalition led by Patti Kiger, MEd, Instructor of Pediatrics at EVMS, works to create healthier communities on the Eastern Shore.

Ms. Kiger took steps to create the coalition after she learned that the overweight/obesity rate on Virginia’s Eastern Shore was 70 percent, the highest in Virginia, and that half of all school children who lived there were overweight or obese.

ESHC convenes partner organizations and individuals to track health indicators, offer information about what produces health, seek diverse citizen input about creating a healthier community and plan and implement policy, systems and environmental change strategies that focus on leading health issues.

ESHC's approach to community health focuses on policy, systems and environmental change because it has a broader impact and is more sustainable than programmatic approaches.

By working with dozens of local government organizations, community members, businesses and schools, ESHC truly takes a community approach to improving health in the Eastern Shore. ESHC accomplishes these goals and others via a number of key initiatives: 

  • Creating a BMI data collection protocol in Northampton and Accomack County Public School Districts
  • Conducting NIH-funded research as part of a Community-Academic Partnership to identify community-sourced ideas for community initiatives
  • Enrolling 1,000 individuals in ACTIVATE Eastern Shore to make healthy eating and fitness choices
  • Branding nutritious and calorie-wise restaurants in order to promote healthy food options in the community
  • Designing an Eastern Shore Leadership Academy with the CDC and National Leadership Academy
  • Championing county and town policy changes
  • Helping students research and change unhealthy food marketing practices in local schools
  • Promoting student civic engagement to lobby local restaurants to serve healthier menu items
  • Developing local walking trails on existing pathways and sidewalks
  • Working to promote healthier smoking, vending machine and fitness policies with local organizations

So far, the program has been awarded 80 grants totaling nearly $9 million for community-based programs.

Learn more about ESHC and their programs in EVMS Magazine.