Improving Health Through Access to Food, Housing, and Exercise in North Carolina

Blog | March 7, 2022


In the second in a series of North Carolina Medical Journal issues dedicated to Healthy North Carolina 2030 -- a roadmap for multisector coalitions to improve health outcomes over a decade --  authors discuss the physical environment.

Our physical environment – where we live, our access to food, and our ability to exercise – contributes about 10% to our health outcomes. In the latest issue of the North Carolina Medical Journal, guest editor Josie Williams, executive director of the Greensboro Housing Coalition, helps tie together data, lived experience, and policy analysis on evictions, food deserts, environmental contaminants, greenspace, and more.

“Health begins in our communities with shared vision, long-term sustainable improvements, and interventions that address root causes of barriers to equitable access to the necessities of life,” writes Williams.

In this issue, authors relay data, analyze policies, and provide examples of successful programs and policies helping to move the work of Healthy NC 2030 forward. Click the links below to read each article, and feel free to share your thoughts with us on social media:

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Policy Forum

Introduction: Breaking the Cycle by Editor-in-Chief Peter J. Morris

Issue Brief: Where We Work, Play, And Live: Health Equity and the Physical Environment by Josie Williams, executive director of the Greensboro Housing Coalition

Data & Trends

Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances: Toxic Chemicals of Concern in North Carolina by Emmanuel Obeng-Gyasi, PhD, MPH, assistant professor and director of the Environmental Health and Disease Laboratory at NC A&T

The Status and Impact of Severe Housing Problems and Evictions in North Carolina by Stephen J. Sill, PhD, professor of sociology and director of the Center for Housing and Community Studies at UNC-Greensboro

Lived Experience

Community Housing and Environmental Justice by Patricia Richmond Macfoy, executive director of New Hope Community Development Group and Sel Bundron Mpang, community engagement associate at the Greensboro Housing Coalition


Nature-based Pathways to Health Promotion: The Value of Parks and Greenspace by Lincoln R. Larson, PhD, and J. Aaron Hipp, PhD, associate professors in the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management at NCSU

Bridging the Urban-Rural Divide in Chronic Disease Through Community Engagement in Health Program Delivery by Lori Carter-Edwards, PhD, MPH, assistant dean for community engagement and faculty of Health Systems Science, Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine; and Monica M. Taylor, PhD, MPH, research scientist in the Center for Health Equity Research at UNC-Chapel Hill

Policies & Programs

Using a Collective Impact Model in Communities to Improve the Physical Environment by Miriam Tardif-Douglin, MSPH, Emily Roland, BA, and LaPonda Edmondson, DrPH, MHS of the North Carolina Healthcare Foundation and Chris Collins, MSW, of The Duke Endowment

North Carolina’s Healthy Opportunities Pilots Focus Attention on Housing as a Health Care Intervention by Ehren Dohler, MSW, Katharine Ball Ricks, PhD, MPH, and Seth A. Berkowitz, MD, MPH, of UNC-Chapel Hill


Housing as Health Care: An Interview with Housing Advocate Michelle Kennedy

Food for All: An Interview with Sam Springs of Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture

COVID Reflection

Equitable Access to Healthy Food Nourishes Unnoticed Communities by Jamilla Pinder, assistant director of Healthy Communities at Cone Health


Focus on Philanthropy: How the John Rex Endowment Helped Fund Healthier Places in Wake County

Running the Numbers: Measuring Food Hardship in North Carolina Communities by Anna H. Casey, PhD, data scientist, and Nicholas Pylypiw, MS, director of data science at Cape Fear Collective


Original Research in this issue:

Project ECHO in Primary Care: Informing Providers about COVID-19 and Its Impact on Health Care Delivery by Courtenay Gilmore Wilson, PharmD, BCAP, CPP of the Charles George VA Medical Center in Asheville; and Susan Alexander, MD, William J. Hitch, PharmD, BCPS, CPP, Lourdes Lorenz-Miller, RN, MSN, NEA-BC, Ellis Vaughan, DNP, RN, and E. Blake Fagan, MD of MAHEC

Outpatient Cardiac Rehabilitation Services, Participants, and Workforce in North Carolina: Results of a 2019 Survey of Cardiac Rehabilitation Program Directors by Aileen Aylward, MSW, MPH, Kelly R. Evenson, PhD, Anna Kucharska-Newton, PhD, and Montika Bush, PhD of UNC-Chapel Hill

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome in North Carolina: Incidence and Characteristics among Infants and Mothers by Melissa L. Harward, MSCR, of Duke University Medical Center; Amy A. Clontz, MSCR, RN, of Novant Health; Thuy T. Vo, MSCR, of ExecuPharm; and Michael R. Jiroutek, DrPH, MS, and Charles A. Carter, PharmD, MBA of Campbell University’s College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences

Letters of Correspondence:

Telehealth, Post-Acute Sequelae of COVID-19, and Lung Cancer Screening Rates