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Expo offers remedies for health issues
Chamber of Commerce event provides information on wellness, nutrition, plus health screenings
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Brenda Tanner, left, gets her weight checked by Elizabeth Rider, Lanier Technical College licensed practical nurse student, at the HealthSmart Interactive Health and Wellness Expo at the Georgia Mountains Center Wednesday. - photo by Tom Reed

The Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce pulled out all the stops for its fourth annual HealthSmart Interactive Health and Wellness Expo.

Wednesday's event at the Georgia Mountains Center featured a variety of speakers who covered topics such as health care reform, heart disease and how to start a business-based wellness program.

Hillary Savage, Hall County Schools' director of school nutrition, was on hand to lead a discussion about the system's healthy eating plans.

"In Hall County schools, 58 to 59 percent of students qualify for free and reduced (price) lunch. What that means is that many of our students rely on us for their daily meals," said Savage, a registered dietician.

Although some say current standards are outdated, Savage said her department does its best to work within federal requirements, while offering healthy options to students.

"The menus are designed in the central office and follow a three-week cycle. The menu options are also seasonal, so it allows us to incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables when they are the most flavorful and also the least expensive to purchase," Savage said.

"There's no deep fat frying — there aren't any fryers left in our cafeterias — and we also try to incorporate more whole grains and fewer processed foods."

Organizers also arranged to provide free health screenings.

Northeast Georgia General, Restorative and Implant Dentistry staff provided free oral cancer screenings for the third year in a row.

"It's really important to catch oral cancer early, but unfortunately a lot of people skip their regular six-month and yearly dental visits," said Dr. Andy Ramsey, with the Gainesville-based practice.

"A lot of people wait until they have a toothache or some other problem. If oral cancer is detected early enough, it's highly curable. Of those cases where oral cancer is discovered in later stages, only about half of those patients will survive more than five years."

There were also more than 50 different exhibitors offering everything from flu shots to information about community health organizations.

"This event has grown each year," said Darrell Snyder, chairman of the chamber's board.

"We want participants to take the information that they (gathered Wednesday) and use it to make a positive impact in the community."

 

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