According to Feeding America, 20 percent of the more than 46 million people who access the organization’s national network of food banks each year are part of households that include someone who’s served or is serving in the U.S. military.
A host of factors, including poverty, job loss, lack of transportation, unaffordable housing and chronic health issues, contribute to creating barriers to food access. But the vague mental images painted by these scenarios do not necessarily put an accurate face on WNC’s sprawling and complicated food insecurity problem.
“The only way we can ensure that everyone has the opportunity to achieve optimal health is to work together with a shared and well-coordinated commitment to improving our community’s health.”
Looking back on 2017, Xpress highlights some of the hundreds of stories we covered in our print editions and online over the year.
“It seems to me that the main reason why people are food insecure is that they just do not have enough money, especially since food prices keep increasing. If the food is ‘available’ and they can’t afford to buy it, it won’t help them.”
“Naming the history of a problem in our black community does not discount the experiences of our rural white communities. It’s not an either-or argument. It’s an “and” discussion. And white, rural communities suffer from food insecurity, too.”
In the 1970s, changes caused by urban renewal efforts stripped the historically black Southside community of its thriving network of corner stores and markets. Today the neighborhood fights its food insecurity issues with community gardens and donation-based dinners as it faces gentrification.
“I have appreciated the paper’s efforts to go into more depth about the conditions that face all the communities within our community, whether that be education, transportation, housing, employment, sprawl and now food access.”
Food access can be a huge challenge for families in WNC’s hard-to-reach rural areas — especially during summer break when children are not receiving school lunch assistance.
Charitable organizations, food pantries and community gardens are working hard to combat hunger in WNC. And at the heart of those efforts, are hundreds of committed volunteers.
“Currently in its fourth year, the Summer Food Service Program grew in response to the risk of summer food insecurity experienced by children who are on the free and reduced meal program during the school year. “
U Grow, a partnership between Bounty & Soul and Eat Smart Black Mountain, offers a hand-to-mouth approach to food security by encouraging families and individuals to grow their own food.
From the Get It! Guide: According to MANNA FoodBank’s 2014 Map the Meal Gap study, food insecurity affects 15.3 percent of Western North Carolina. But several local efforts are looking to stop hunger in WNC, bringing the battle to the fields, the pantries, the neighborhoods and even city hall.
The organization has been running a pop-up food pantry and food security effort out of three locations in Black Mountain since 2012 but has been looking for a way to expand its reach since last spring.
From the Get It! Guide: The Haywood County Gleaners currently work with 17 farms and farmers markets to gather leftover crops and donate them at 27 different sites, including senior centers and food pantries.
From the Get It! Guide: Sir Charles Gardner, a founding member of Gardens United, talks about food and building community through agriculture.
For many of us, when we think of preserved foods, we picture our grandparents carefully canning tomatoes from their garden, or the menu at a trendy restaurant featuring sauerkraut or pickled quail eggs. But imagine what food preservation means to someone experiencing food insecurity or to a donation grower faced with excess produce rotting in the field, and the image becomes something quite different.
The Eastern Band of the Cherokee are working to overcome problems plaguing their community with a literal grassroots solution — a community garden kit program designed to encourage physical activity, increase access to healthy foods and promote family and agricultural traditions.
Incorporating garden-based education with an emphasis on healthy eating into the regular curriculum is the goal of two in-school programs run by FEAST, an extension of Slow Foods Asheville. Funds gathered by FEAST and school PTOs will support faculty positions in two elementary schools this academic year where a FEAST Garden and Cooking Coordinator will work to bring the schools’ gardens into the classroom.
Many gardens in Asheville rest on public property that was once overgrown and unused. These spaces have been transformed but the methods that brought the transformation sometimes differ. Some gardeners in Asheville have taken their spots through guerrilla gardening. In some ways it’s comparable to being a graffiti artist or even a squatter, but some say it’s preferable to jumping through the hoops of bureaucracy.