FRESH Fairfax: An Asset-based Community Collaboration Between Case Western Reserve University Graduate Students and a Neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio
FRESH Fairfax is a student-led, asset-based community initiative created with the Fairfax neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio. The project is a partnership between the Cleveland Clinic (CCF), Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) health professional students (Medicine, Physician Assistant, Nursing, Social Work and Public Health) and Fairfax community residents. The purpose of the initiative is to address health disparities in the Fairfax neighborhood by utilizing a strengths-based perspective to pilot a student-run health program, addressing both short-term and long-term health issues. The aim of this project is three-fold: (1) to improve health outcomes and provide a safe space to share health challenges, (2) to promote inter-professionalism, community collaboration and cultural humility and (3) to develop a sustainable partnership between health institutions and residents in surrounding neighborhoods.
CWRU health profession students and Fairfax residents met three separate times at a Fairfax community center to discuss strengths and challenges related to health and wellbeing in the Fairfax community. Ultimately, the “FRESH Fairfax” initiative was created, which stands for Food Resources for Empowerment and Security in Healthy-living. For the initiative, teams of two students (one medically-oriented and one socially-oriented) will provide individualized nutrition counseling and conduct health screenings twice a month over the course of four months, held at the Langston Hughes Community Health Center, an identified community asset. Success will be measured both quantitatively via surveys and qualitatively via focus groups. Measurable outcomes include: improved understanding of healthy eating, increased utilization of community health resources, and improved trust in health institutions. Unfortunately, the planned sessions for spring of 2020 were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The health and safety of the residents and students is our number one priority. We look forward to the fall of 2020, when the FRESH Fairfax Initiative will be implemented within the interprofessional education curriculum at CWRU and students will continue to work with the Fairfax community for years to come. Due to the fact that food insecurity, depression, stress and other social factors are worsening during these times, it is important now more than ever to make nutrition education accessible to vulnerable communities.