Examples of NC Food System Assessments
Charlotte Mecklenburg Baseline Assessment
Nationally and locally, chronic disease is rising at alarming rates: 61% of
Mecklenburg County residents are overweight or obese and our rates of
cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are on the
rise. Diet and access to healthy food are essential to preventing and treating
these chronic diseases, yet only 11% of residents eat the recommended daily
number of servings of fruits and vegetables. A key factor is that access to
healthy food is not equally available. This study of Charlotte and Mecklenburg
County focuses on food access based on availability, affordability, and quality
within neighborhood environments. Our overarching question is to see how the
local food system has changed in the past five years to provide fresher,
healthier, and safer foods through improved food access and food security for
all Charlotte and Mecklenburg County residents.
In revisiting the 2010 Mecklenburg County Community Food Assessment, we
focus our analysis on food insecurity, which is a more nuanced understanding of
households and food access. While “food desert” is primarily a geographic
distinction that tells us about food availability within a low-income community, it
does not reveal enough about food security. Food security is more about the
lived experience of households. By looking at food security we can begin to
explore alternative strategies and policies for combating hunger and improving
health in our community.
Pitt County's Baseline Assessment
The Pitt County Food Council Task Force (PCFCTF) is working to establish and maintain
relationships among diverse organizations and community members in an effort to strategically
shift our food system to one that is more supportive of the local community. Food Councils
include representatives from all parts of the local food supply chain, which provides an
opportunity to address community food system betterment on a macro level. For that reason,
PCFCTF is working to become a community leader in understanding our food system and in
creating a charter to establish a food council to serve the Pitt County community.
So, to better understand our community food system, we decided to participate in a pilot project
with Community Food Strategies on baseline food system assessments across North Carolina.
Olivia Whitt, a student at East Carolina University, under the guidance of the Community Food
Strategies team and members of the PCFCTF, completed this assessment in July 2016.
- For more see Pitt County’s Baseline Assessment PDF
Forsyth County's Baseline Assessment
In Forsyth County, North Carolina there is a renewed interest in local foods,
including the growth of farmers markets, community gardens, buying co-ops,
and local food advocacy groups. New efforts demonstrate an interest in eating locally. There is a an evolving vision of a community with a food system that is economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable that is the result of promoting a strong local food economy, ensuring producers and food system workers a
fair and sustainable livelihood, and providing all residents with access to fresh and
healthy foods. However, the actual and potential social and economic impacts on
the community are not yet clear. Thus, there was a need to study the impact and
gain a greater understanding of the role of local foods in the current community
With support from the Forsyth County Government and the Winston-Salem
Foundation, Forsyth Futures led a team comprised of staff and local/state experts
that conducted an objective assessment of the current community (local) food
system in Forsyth County. It is hoped that the results will serve as a catalyst to
maximize the impact of local foods.
For the purpose of this study, local foods were defined as “fruits, vegetables and
livestock that are produced and raised, or processed within Forsyth County
and the seven surrounding counties.” The community food system was further
defined to include producers, processors, and distributors that serve Forsyth
County, and the outlets through which consumers in Forsyth County purchase
local food. Because a high portion of local foods consumed in Forsyth County are
produced in surrounding counties as well as Forsyth, the decision was made to
include food produced in the seven surrounding counties.
- For more see Forsyth County’s Baseline Assessment PDF
Orange County's Baseline Assessment
This Community Food Assessment is a compilation of data offering a holistic view of Orange County’s food system. The report aims to inform the Orange County Food Council in its effort to support a socially, economically, and environmentally just food system that provides safe, culturally appropriate, and nutritious food.
Our food system is a complex and interwoven network that includes the following components: production, processing, distribution, consumption, and food waste management. The assessment reports on each of those categories and used the Whole Measures Framework, adapted from the Center of Whole Communities, to guide data collection and analysis. Data was compiled in the fall of 2015, primarily from public resources. Interviews with a few stakeholders were also conducted to fill in gaps and add context to specific data. Additional stakeholder interviews would add useful context and information to future assessments.
- For more see Orange County’s Baseline Assessment PDF