Midtown Raleigh News

April 5, 2014

Midtown Muse: Community groups battle back against food desert crisis

Southeast Raleigh projects win thousands for home-grown health initiatives

Sometimes deadlines push the cart before the horse.

It happened last week with news about a community resource day hosted today by Voices into Action: The Families, Food and Health Project. The USDA-funded initiative of N.C. State, N. C. A&T State and N.C. Cooperative Extension aims to increase access to healthy food and places to exercise in Southeast Raleigh.

One of the highlights was a panel of folks recently awarded mini-grants by the project. But I couldn’t announce each project then because some were pending. A day after press time for Midtown Muse, though, Voices into Action let me know they’d gotten final USDA approval for all 10 Southeast Raleigh mini-grants.

In all, 16 individuals, school, faith communities and organizations applied for the Voices into Action mini-grant of up to $2,000 to implement solutions to Southeast Raleighs food desert status, which took center stage when Kroger closed two stores in January 2012 and left many in the area without a grocery store within a mile of home.

The mini-grant projects mean Southeast Raleigh could replace two Kroger stores with 10 creative, community-based programs aimed at filling the void.

Theyre making it easy for people to live a healthy lifestyle, said Marissa Sheldon, the Community Outreach Coordinator for Voices into Action.

The Rev. Royce Hathcock, executive director for one grantee, Neighbor to Neighbor, looks forward to documenting through social media their plan to build more skate boxes, ramps and rails so skateboarders in the community can get physical with their gifts, talents and abilities — safely.

“We’re trying to create a place for physical activity, but also a safe place for people to just be,” Hathcock said.

Information on 2015 Southeast Raleigh Mini-grants will be available this summer.

The 2014 Southeast Raleigh mini-grants recipients are:

Agape Word Fellowship Church: will buy exercise equipment and promotional material to work with a fitness instructor to provide free fitness classes at the church, four times per month. The classes will be open to both church members and the general public. http://agapeword.net/home/.

Alliance Medical Ministry: will enhance their existing community garden to provide patients and community members fresh fruits and vegetables, nutrition education classes to increase skills related to and knowledge about gardening and healthy eating. http://www.alliancemedicalministry.org/.

Fertile Ground Food Cooperative: will complete a feasibility study and seeks recommendations for its efforts to create a multi-stakeholder food cooperative to provide access to healthy, affordable foods, generate local economic activity, and serve as a community and cultural center. fertilegroundfoodcoop@gmail.com.

Grocers on Wheels: will buy a cooler to keep meats and produce fresh during hot summer months as the year-round, mobile produce market travels to various organizations, housing developments and neighborhoods in Southeast Raleigh. http://www.grocersonwheels.com/.

Neighbor to Neighbor: will build a permanent skate park on their property, complete with safety equipment to create a safe place for youth to be active and skate. The project will be documented by pictures and video on social media to share its progress and skaters experiences being physically active. http://www.n2noutreach.org/.

North Carolina Fair Share CDC: will teach youth and community members about sustainable agricultural practices by creating a large, sustainable urban outdoor grow system and an indoor hydroponics grow system. Fish and produce they raise through these grow systems will be sold at a farmers market established by the project and managed by Southeast Raleigh youth and supported by community partners. http://ncfairsharecdc.org/.

Passage Home: will improve their participants health by incorporating physical activity classes into all of its youth summer camps; mandating healthy meals be served during camp sessions and public meetings; providing nutrition education classes; and challenging community partners to follow their lead. http://www.passagehome.org/.

Poe Center: will create a hands-on learning garden within PlayWELL Park to teach youth participants, their families, and community members about gardening and healthy eating, provide access free, fresh produce, and to engage in physical activity in the park. The center also will donate produce from the garden to Passage Home. http://www.poehealth.org/.

Treasuring Christ Church: will enhance their playground with updated equipment, signage, and landscaping, and then open it to the public as a safe place for neighborhood children and their families to be active year-round, as well as for YMCA partnerships. http://www.tccraleigh.org/.

Wake County Cooperative Extension: will offer a 6-week culinary and nutrition course, Farm it Forward, to teach people how to prepare healthy meals on a budget using fresh, local produce from Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, and how to grow their own food using container gardens. http://wake.ces.ncsu.edu/.

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