A day full of more than 300 ice cream flavors from local ice cream shops and ways to burn off the calories is precisely the combination the Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority was going for when it opted to host the Atlanta Ice Cream Festival for the third year. The Authority’s presence adds sprinkles of health and wellness to the Festival, giving attendees the opportunity to “scream for ice cream” and screen for Diabetes, Hypertension, HIV and walk to fight Cancer — a primary focus for the second consecutive year. In 2016, the cancer walk honored survivor Leah Dortch, a mother of two fighting both liver and bile duct cancer.
Beverly Burks, director of Community Engagement for the Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority explains that the Health and Wellness Pavilion allows the Authority to engage with the community and offer preventive health information in a friendly environment — true to its mission of servicing residents of Fulton and DeKalb Counties for over 72 years, dating back to World War II. The FDHA provides grants to community-based organizations, hosting or fortifying community events with health awareness pavilions and resources, and advocating for responsive healthcare policy that works to meet the healthcare needs of the residents of Fulton and DeKalb counties and provide quality health care and a focus on life altering habits that can affect lifespan. To that end, this year, the FDHA’s “Stress Team” will interact with participants sharing information and tools on how to recognize and relieve stress, working to provide health education and preventive health to all members of the community.
Its participation in the Festival meets its target population exactly where they are.
“By joining forces with the Atlanta Ice Cream Festival we hope to provide support to community members who may not seek preventive care in a traditional environment,” explains Burks. The conjoined effort also places the Authority in a position to raise awareness that it champions on its other platforms. For example, the Festival falls squarely in Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. According to the Authority, Mental health illnesses affect one in five adults and one in 10 children in America. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration states mental illness is a leading cause of disability, yet nearly two-thirds of people with a diagnosable mental illness do not seek treatment, and racial and ethnic groups in the United States are even less likely to get help, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
The awareness, paired with a helping of ice cream has proven to be an effective formula.
Since 1984, July has been designated National Ice Cream month, with National Ice Cream Day taking place the 3rd Sunday in July.
Kevin James, founder of the festival, explains that he created the Atlanta Ice Cream Festival to be a family celebration of fun with plenty of health and wellness engagement activities, fitness routines, food and non-food vendors, live local musical entertainment and a morning 5K Fight Cancer Walk. There are games for children and adults including the popular ice cream eating contest where participants finish off a bowl of ice cream without using their hands. James explains that entrance to the festival remains free so that community members can bring the entire family. America’s favorite dessert comes with a health helping of tips on maintaining a well-balanced lifestyle all year long.
The history of ice cream is convoluted and filled with myths, from Marco Polo to Catherine de Medici. Most scholars credit the Tang Dynasty for the first appearance of “a frozen milk-like confection.” The early Arab word “sharabt” or sherbet refers to a frozen drink flavored with cherry, pomegranate, or quince. Antonio Latini (1642-1692) a worker for the Spanish Viceroy in Naples, Italy is given credit for being the first to write down a recipe for “sorbetto.” Furthermore, he is responsible for adding a “milk base” to sorbet. Food historians consider this the first ice cream.
“We know that Alexander the Great enjoyed snow and ice flavored with honey and nectar. Biblical references also show that King Solomon was fond of iced drinks during harvesting. During the Roman Empire, Nero Claudius Caesar (A.D. 54-86) frequently sent runners into the mountains for snow, which was then flavored with fruits and juices,” according to the International Dairy Foods Association.
In the United States, Augustus Jackson an African-American chef who worked in the White House in the 1820s is known as the “Father of Ice Cream.” He is sometimes mistakenly credited with inventing ice cream, while he didn’t invent the treat, he did make it better. His experiments with eggless ice cream, ice cream storage and new flavors made him the wealthiest African-American in Philadelphia during his lifetime.
The Atlanta Ice Cream Festival is a true celebration of confection — and community. “Our festival has every type of ice cream available including Vegan ice cream, Italian gelato, Sorbet, Dairy-free ice cream and good old fashion vanilla,” says James.
The dessert-focused festival is a time for indulgence and also a time for testing your glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol.
“We bring health to a family fun day,” says Burks, and above all, the age old adage: “Everything in moderation.”
*The 7th annual Atlanta Ice Cream Festival will take place at Piedmont Park on Saturday, July