Health & dental screening programs look to team up with farms

by | Jul 7, 2023

“We want to let people know that we care about them, and that God cares about them. This is a small way that we can show them that we care.”

That’s part of how Crystal Horton with North Carolina-based Baptists on Mission describes the organization’s health and dental screening programs. The leaders of those programs are now looking to expand those programs by partnering with more farms and other agricultural entities to reach more people in rural North Carolina.

“Looking at the demographics throughout North Carolina, we know that there are a lot of farms and farm workers,” Horton said. “We’re a nonprofit faith-based organization focused on meeting human needs.”

Just as the Baptists on Mission organization does during disaster relief, “the goal of the dental and health screening ministries is to help people in need and come alongside them,” Horton explained.

While disaster relief is the largest and perhaps most well-known ministry of the organization, Baptists on Mission has a total of 19 ministries. The dental ministry began in 1988, and the health screening ministry began in 2015. Both programs operate via mobile units which travel across the state. There are currently two dental trucks in operation and one health screening mobile unit. There are plans to add two more units within the coming year.

Horton said the units are most often utilized by churches and community partners during weekends. Leadership within Baptists on Mission thought partnering with the agricultural community would be a good way to make more use of the units during the week.

With that idea in mind, the programs partnered with Lancaster Farms in Wilson and Nash Produce in Nashville last year. So far this year, the units have visited Lancaster Farms again, and program leaders hope to find more opportunities across the state. They want to drive their health and dental mobile units to more farms, reaching those who have the greatest needs.

During the visit to Lancaster Farms in May, volunteer healthcare and dental providers were able to see 47 farm workers for health screenings and 16 workers for dental needs. The health screenings assessed vital signs, heart disease risk, cholesterol levels, body mass index, depression and diabetes risk. Dental care focused on immediate needs such as fillings and extractions. Cleanings are also available as part of the dental ministry.

“If you have a toothache, it affects your life right now. You will seek out treatment right now to help with the pain. If you have high blood pressure or diabetes and don’t know it, there is a high probability that it will lead to a larger health event later if left untreated,” Horton said. “We are using basic health and dental services to meet human needs, and in the process, we are able to let each patient know they are cared about.”

If health issues are identified, health care providers are able to offer guidance to patients which can improve overall health. If needed, follow-up visits with a local health care provider are also offered. The programs have had good success partnering with local community health partners (called Federally Qualified Health Centers) such as county health departments or clinics. In some cases, those local partners can provide transportation in addition to follow-up appointments.

Anyone interested in learning more about these ministries and the possibility of coordinating health screening and dental visits can contact Krissy Watson at or Crystal Horton at

“Meeting physical needs and letting people know they are cared about, – that’s how we share the love of Jesus,” Horton said.