Beaufort County Healthy Food Action Plan
Healthy, Fresh, Local Food: An Action Plan for Increasing Availability and Access in Beaufort County, North Carolina Assessment published today focuses on healthy and local food access in Beaufort County.
Washington, NC – “I want something fast that does not need a lot of preparation,” “The produce that we get in the grocery store is not always fresh,” “I can’t afford to buy as much as I need.” These are just a few of the typical answers given in a recent countywide survey that asked the question, “Do you feel that you eat enough fruits and vegetables, eggs, milk and whole grains?”
The results of this survey are part of an overall county assessment of local and healthy food access recently conducted by the Mid-East Commission, a regional planning organization based in Washington, NC, and the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, a food and farming organization based in Pittsboro, NC. The assessment was funded by a grant from the Kate B Reynolds Charitable Trust as part of Healthy Places NC, a new place-based initiative in Beaufort, Halifax and McDowell Counties. The initiative is aimed at improving the health and overall quality of life for people in rural areas in North Carolina. The Trust is currently funding several projects in the county aimed to increase opportunities for healthy eating and active living.
The assessment highlights challenges and opportunities in the county around local fruit and vegetable production and access of residents to healthy, fresh, local food. The document also includes an action plan for the community to increase access to these types of foods. The project team, assisted by a steering committee, conducted surveys with over 750 county residents to understand their level of access to healthy, fresh, local foods, and to solicit ideas for ways to improve and increase access. A series of community meetings were also held to hear directly from residents about their ideas for improving access healthy, fresh, local foods. Over eighty residents attended these meetings to discuss community needs and projects. Interviews were also recorded with specific stakeholders on healthy, fresh, local food access. Survey results and community input were discussed in a second series of community meetings, and attendees participated in group strategy sessions to identify the necessary steps, needed technical assistance, available resources and potential barriers to accomplish the goals identified by the assessment.
The assessment found that Beaufort County residents confront a myriad of challenges in accessing healthy, fresh, local foods for their diets. Poverty, rural isolation and high rates of preventable, diet-related chronic disease, such as type-2 diabetes and high blood pressure are all real challenges facing the community. The assessment also found that the county has significant assets around healthy, fresh, local food. There are more than a dozen complimentary and interconnected projects underway in the county to strengthen community access to local and healthy foods, to provide education on food and nutrition, and to improve the health, well being and diets of county residents. These efforts, like the greenhouse at Beaufort County Developmental Center and a new demonstration kitchen at Eagle Wing’s Food Pantry, need to be further developed to help support healthy food access and education in the community.
The five resulting priority goals that were identified by the assessment include: 1) Increase opportunities for sale of local products; 2) Supporting community and school garden development that engages youth; 3) Expand existing and offer new educational opportunities around nutrition, food and farming; 4) Provide financial support and assistance for Good Agricultural Practices certification (a food safety certification needed by farmers to sell to certain customers, such as the Beaufort County Schools) for local growers; and 5) Continue to facilitate connections throughout the county around healthy and local foods.
The full report can be found here: http://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/beaufortcountyactionplan/
The Mid-East Commission serves the counties of Beaufort, Bertie, Hertford, Martin, & Pitt as well as local municipalities. Our mission is to enhance the ability of local governments to successfully improve the quality of life for area citizens: Leadership in technical assistance, planning, program management and development and public-private partnerships.
For more information, visit www.mideastcom.org.
Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) is a 33-year-old non-profit with over 2,300 members that advocates for fair farm and food policies, builds the systems family farms need to thrive, and educates communities about local, organic farming. Our vision is the creation of a regional food system in the Carolinas that is good for farmers, good for consumers, and good for the land. To learn more, visit www.carolinafarmstewards.org.