Food councils support Covid-19 community relief efforts
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Community Food Strategies made a quick decision to reroute funding to food councils for immediate and long-term relief efforts in the form of small grants up to $1000. We are honored to support the following food councils across North Carolina, who are serving pivotal roles in coordinating collaborative efforts, identifying gaps, and providing resources to their community.
A Better Chance A Better Community (ABC2) and their GROW-K Youth Food Council will distribute healthy meals to community members in need through their weekly Saturday Feeding program. Local chefs will prepare the meals with locally sourced produce and meats. Their Community Farm is also spearheading a project to redirect food products from restaurants to food pantries in Halifax and Northampton Counties.
Alamance Food Collaborative, in partnership with the Black Entrepreneurship Collaborative, Mayco Bigelow Community Center, Authentically Alamance Farmers’ Market, and Healthy Alamance, is planning a Juneteenth event on June 19, 2020. These funds will support purchasing for this catered event that will focus on community engagement, food access, and celebrating Black History with safety precautions in place. Originally intended to be a sit-down dinner (pay-as-you-can with proceeds benefiting programming for the community), COVID-19 has reshaped the event. They plan to honor the above with take-home, catered dinner boxes printed with local Alamance Black History information. These catered meals will include fresh produce from local farmers of color.
Asheville Buncombe Food Policy Council is working in Asheville and Buncombe County, with neighborhoods most at-risk of increased food insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to develop community-based emergency food security solutions. Some of these solutions include the construction of outdoor pantries (for easy donation and pick-up of non-perishable foods and other household goods), access to emergency supplies and resources, and support and coordination of household and community-scale agricultural efforts. These funds will be used to purchase necessary materials and for labor hours needed to complete each project. While most of the labor utilized will be volunteer-based, they will hire some paid labor for the skilled construction of the outdoor pantries.
Beaufort County Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Collaborative will enhance and improve services that are already providing food relief to Beaufort County citizens. In order to reduce transportation barriers for food delivery, they will use funds for gas cards for community members in outlying areas of Beaufort County to distribute farm boxes from local farmers and other food distribution services. Other funds will be used to improve equity and inclusion in the seed distribution program with Cooperative Extension and the school system by buying and printing gardening materials in Spanish. The HEAL Collaborative will use any remaining funds to purchase supplies for food pantry operations and delivery such as bags, disinfectant, and personal protective equipment.
Cape Fear Food Council will work to increase access to food assistance resources. This will entail a communications strategy for raising awareness about the food assistance resource guides and maps the council created for New Hanover, Pender, and Brunswick Counties. Outreach tools will likely include printed copies of the guides, flyers, and/or yard signs about food assistance information, boosting Facebook posts with links to online guides/maps, etc. Communications will be directed toward financially insecure communities through a needs assessment they plan to conduct via a text banking system that can identify people based on geography and income level.
Capital Area Food Network (CAFN) – Families with children eligible for free or reduced-priced lunch will receive additional federal Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) funds during the COVID-19 pandemic, namely Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer funds (P-EBT). CAFN plans to carry out a comprehensive outreach and consumer education campaign focused on linking P-EBT and EBT users with local farmers markets, aiming to connect underserved, typically food-insecure households with fresh foods, while also supporting Wake County’s local food system and economy. This communications campaign seeks to supplement Wake County’s EBT outreach through informational flyers and postcards in both English and Spanish, as well as on social media via CAFN’s Facebook page and website.
Carteret Food and Health Council (CFHC) will continue to build a community garden network across Carteret County. The gardens will feature a combination of raised beds and container gardens appropriate to each available space. The CFHC is collaborating with faith-based, disaster recovery, county Master Gardeners, and other organizations to address the current food insecurity issues due to COVID-19. They will also create educational videos for ongoing education on food production and preparation.
Caswell County Local Foods Council is supporting appropriate food safety protocols for the farmers’ market and providing incentives for consumer attendance to the local farmers’ market. They have rented two handwashing stations at $160/month (for both) for 4.5 months and have created additional signage to remind people of 6-feet social distancing. Realizing that many people in their community are financially stressed, they are giving $5 coupons (Pandemic Power) to all adults who arrive at the market and wash their hands at the handwashing stations.
Catawba County Food Council is partnering with their Public Health Department to acquire healthy, better quality food, from local sources when possible, to restock the food and supply pantry for those who are at high risk and receiving services at Public Health. Due to a significant increase in Women, Infant, Children (WIC) clients, these resources are running low.
Charlotte Mecklenburg Food Policy Council will develop their existing website into a hub of food system resources for Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. This will include a full update to their current website, a COVID-19 specific resource page where they will host “Ask an Expert” virtual member event recordings, plus information from the Char-Meck community in response to COVID-19. This aligns with their vision for the 2020 State of the Plate Report, allowing them to extend the changes made to the website to house and share information collected through the research efforts. Funds will be used for a stipend for their intern’s time in supporting these website changes, as well as any ancillary costs.
Craven County will support the Veterans Employment Base Camp and Organic Garden in developing food safety processes around COVID-19. Currently, the garden is collecting civilian and military resources to inform proper safety measures. When the garden reopens at an increased capacity, funding will be used to purchase personal protective supplies.
Davidson County Local Food Council is working to support home and community gardens by partnering with the county cooperative extension office. These funds will be used to purchase home garden kits with vegetable and herb transplants and season extension supplies for existing community gardens. They will also promote these resources and other educational resources broadly to the community.
Forsyth Foodworks is working to build the capacity of urban farmers, including graduates of Forsyth County’s Urban Farm School by developing an Urban Farmers’ Cooperative that will provide structure and support, as well as cooperative buying and marketing opportunities.
Greater High Point Food Alliance (GHPFA) will use the funds to off-set the additional administrative expenses they are incurring as they help their community respond to COVID-19. For example, a local donor used the GHPFA to distribute $30,000 to local food providers and to purchase supplies for those organizations. They have worked with Guilford County Schools to apply for a $50,000 grant that will provide food to families purchased from urban and local farmers.
Island CultureZ will work with members of the Island Community to build urban farmer capacity, obtain sanitation supplies and equipment, and to aid in harvest and storage of food grown in their urban farms. These funds will also support travel costs and technical assistance.
Just Foods Collaborative is working with Conetoe Family Life Center’s community farm and Ripple Effects, a local non-profit organization, to provide supplies for food safety and fuel to deliver locally grown and shelf stable items to older adults and persons with disabilities in Nash and Edgecombe County. Just Foods Collaborative is also working with other small farms in the area to provide fresh, quality food to citizens in need. Some of the funds will be used to pay farm staff and to purchase supplies for packing vegetables and fruit for deliveries.
McDowell Local Food Advisory Council will support the Foothills Food Hub, which has been appointed as the entity responsible for sourcing, packaging, and distributing food to individuals in need throughout McDowell County. By the end of April, they were averaging 1,000 boxes of food per week. Costs are projected to increase to $10,000 per week due to decreased supply from their partner food bank. These funds will be used to supplement food purchasing and/or to purchase supplies needed to ensure the safety of their volunteers and boxes needed to package food.
Rowan Food and Farm Network will distribute local, fresh produce to the older adult population in Rowan County via Meals on Wheels and at senior lunch sites through Rufty Holmes Senior Center. With over 300 recipients, they are budgeting $3-4 per person and will supplement with donated monies from Bread Riot.
Rutherford County Food Network is promoting their farmers market, Double Up Bucks program, and SNAP benefits for Rutherford County citizens in need.
Scotland Grows will use the funds to support transportation and labor of local produce boxes given to furloughed hospital workers from Scotland Memorial Hospital. They are adding a new program with Sandhills AGInnovation Center, a member of their food council, supported by Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) to deliver food boxes to out-of-work hospitality employees. This grant will support transportation costs, and the local United Way is covering the purchase of the produce boxes. Scotland Grows is partnering with their local food pantry, Church and Community Services, to add Campbell’s Soup products and a protein source to the boxes for the six weeks the program will run.
Stanly County Food Council is coordinating efforts across the hospital system, Extension, health department, Emergency Management, and multiple emergency food groups to increase access to food for Stanly County residents. They plan to launch a buy one, give one campaign, using these grant dollars as a matching goal, and inviting organizations and individuals to increase donations of food supplies to meet significant increased need from food pantries. They have seen an increase from 60 families to 150 families twice a week. The project has two goals for this newly formed food council: first, to support meeting the emergency food needs across their county, and second, to increase awareness of the council and invite additional engagement and collaboration from individuals and organizations.
Winston-Salem Urban Food Policy Council is supporting three months of bi-monthly vending markets for small farmers in Winston-Salem’s urban core. This funding will support rental space fees, appropriate materials for social distancing at the market, and personal protective equipment for vending farmers. The Liberty Street Market is a vending space funded by the City of Winston-Salem yet has been vacant for many years and inaccessible to farmers as a vending space. Farmers who produce within a 5-mile radius of the Liberty Street Market will be invited as vendors.
The Watauga Food Council is acting as the sustaining coordinator for food relief in Watauga County. These funds will be used for the Food Council Coordinator to help coordinate hunger relief programs, particularly partnering with the school system, and a vegetable seedlings project. The food council will also buy personal protective equipment and help with transportation costs to deliver boxes to home-bound residents. They will also purchase potting soil, containers, and locally sourced seedlings and vegetable plant starts for residents to pick up at food distribution sites in the county. Some funds will also subsidize local food purchases to food pantries.
Yancey Food Coalition will use the funds for translation services for community food documents, including best practices and food security reports. They have made a commitment to translate all documents into Spanish to address the disparity that Latinx members of their communities are experiencing during the COVID-19 crisis. Up to this point in time, they have asked volunteers to translate these documents. They feel that it is an equity issue that these volunteers should be paid for their contributions to local food system work.
Youth Ambassadors, Men and Women United for Youth and Families will use the funds to purchase supplies needed to further their youth entrepreneurial program that teaches youth to garden and sell produce. Their program for local minority youth sponsors scholarships for college-bound participants and provides opportunities to build leadership, entrepreneurial, and social skills.