Helping Restaurant Employees Lead a Healthier Lifestyle in Kentucky

Photo of a fast-food restaurant

The Kentucky Women’s Cancer Screening Program formed a year-long partnership with a fast-food restaurant to educate its workers about healthy lifestyles and help women employees get free or low-cost breast and cervical cancer screening tests.

The Kentucky Women’s Cancer Screening Programexternal icon staff wanted to find a business to work with in an area where breast or cervical cancer screening rates were low. They wanted to choose a business that employed women who have a low income or don’t have health insurance. Since the local area (Frankfort) had low screening rates, they decided Frankfort would be an ideal place to start.

Staff members saw an ad in the local Chamber of Commerce’s e-mail newsletter for an opportunity to connect with the kind of business they had in mind: a fast-food restaurant chain. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was happening just a few miles away. The staff grabbed some materials and headed to the ceremony. Staff met with the restaurant chain’s district managers and captured their interest by showing them the federal poverty guidelines and a flier showing program services and eligibility guidelines. Staff members pointed out, “We think many of your employees could benefit from this program.”

At first, program staff wanted only to place educational materials in the break rooms. But the managers did not want to make their male employees feel uncomfortable by providing only women’s cancer screening information. They agreed to work with the program if the program would offer Healthy Livingexternal icon educational modules that could benefit all employees, no matter their age, insurance status, or sex. It was agreed, and a year-long partnership was formed with a district that operated 23 stores (though one had temporarily closed and did not participate) in 8 counties, reaching about 1,150 employees.

An action plan was developed to help the workers lower their cancer risk through group education on healthy lifestyles. Every month or two, the program sent a new packet to each store. Each packet included educational materials on topics like nutrition, breast cancer, or how to quit smoking, along with resources such as screening reminder cards or smoking quit line cards. The district agreed to place program displays in their break rooms, so the women employees could contact the program to get free or low-cost breast and cervical cancer screening tests.

In addition, program staff educated the managers on organizational policy initiatives that could support employee wellness. These initiatives included a sick leave policy to allow workers to take paid time off for cancer screenings and establishing an employee-led wellness committee.

At the end of the one-year partnership, program staff found that the workers had learned about all of the healthy living topics presented. Workers learned the most about human papillomavirus (HPV).

When the workers were asked about the educational materials—

  • Almost half of the workers said they did or will make changes to live a healthier lifestyle because of what they learned.
  • More than one-third said they did or will get a cancer screening test because of what they learned.
  • More than half said they did or will encourage someone in their life to get a cancer screening test because of what they learned.

The Kentucky Women’s Cancer Screening Program staff invited the managers to continue the project beyond the first year. Staff suggested continuing to display the program’s flier and business cards in the break rooms, allowing the program to continue sending educational resources, and connecting the management staff with other partners.

Page last reviewed: November 10, 2021