Underhill strives to 'help the community be healthier'


Amy Underhill


By Anna Goodwin McCarthy

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Amy Underhill hopes to help make access to healthier food choices as simple as going to the corner store.

As the Healthy Communities coordinator with Albemarle Regional Health Services, Underhill is promoting the statewide initiative for the "North Carolina Healthy Food Retail Designation for Small Food Stores."

Information about the healthy food designation can be found online at http://www.eatsmartmovemorenc.com/HealthyFoodRetail/HealthyFoodRetail.html, according to Underhill.

Together with her co-workers at Albemarle Regional Health Services, Underhill said they are striving to "help the community be healthier."

Underhill said she communicates with local corner and convenience stores "to offer more healthy fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grain products and low-fat dairy."

Underhill said the participating stores are provided with displays and marketing materials about the initiative.

“We educate them about what is healthy,” said Underhill. “We share what the total impact will be with them.”

With more than 16 years of experience working at Albemarle Regional Health Services, Underhill said she works with the community to share information about health.

Presenting to church and civic groups and providing information at local farmer’s markets, Underhill said she enjoys communicating with the public.

Underhill presents information on topics such as “healthy eating on a budget, navigating the grocery store and chronic disease management and prevention.”

Underhill shares information on ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Stressing the importance of meal planning, Underhill suggests reviewing the items that are already in your pantry before grocery shopping and utilizing coupons and sales to create healthy meals on a budget.

Time saving tips include preparing meals ahead of time or pre-chopping ingredients. Underhill said it can also be beneficial to have “grab and go” snacks that are healthy like fruit in a bowl on a table.

A recipe of the month and featured harvest is on the “Live Healthy!” link on the Albemarle Regional Health Services website at http://www.arhs-nc.org/live-healthy/.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle also includes staying active and “staying on track with exercise,” said Underhill.

"Exercise is so important to our daily life," said Underhill. "Aim for 30 minutes a day if you can."

Commencing new regimens in fitness and nutrition can be a challenge. Underhill said, “I like to break it down in smaller short term goals.”

Originally from Murfreesboro, N.C., Underhill said she knew she wanted to pursue a career in health when she was attending college. Underhill earned her master's degree in health education and promotion from East Carolina University.

Underhill lives in Elizabeth City with her husband, Gary, and their daughter, Camryn. She attends Sawyers Creek Baptist Church in Camden and is vice chair of the J.C. Sawyer PTO.

"I've always been interested in health," said Underhill.

Underhill said the best aspect of her profession is “providing a service to people and helping them make positive health behavior changes.”