As the new year begins, many resolve to live healthier. Fuquay-Varina leaders decided at their first meeting of 2016 to put some money toward that same goal.
The town previously won a grant to help fund programs that encourage healthy eating and active living. On Jan. 4, the town commissioners voted unanimously to commit more local spending toward a community kitchen.
The kitchen will help elementary and middle school students learn how to cook with a goal of making them less reliant on junk food and fast food.
“Our target audience is the at-risk youth population ... although we would not turn any child away that was in the age range bracket we’re looking for,” Town Manager Adam Mitchell said.
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But before the downtown kitchen can be put to use, Mitchell said, it needs to be renovated.
The town commissioners unanimously agreed to approve the renovations, even though the lowest bid of $89,000 is over the original estimate of $72,000.
“While this additional funding increases the town’s funding and cash match, the fund effectively increases the town’s health,” Mitchell said.
Fuquay-Varina is paying $37,000 of the total, officials said.
This year is the second year of the three-year Rex Endowment grant, which is for $210,000.
Other than the kitchen renovations, Fuquay-Varina will use the $210,000 grant to expand running and walking trails, create promotional materials for healthy living and hire people to run programs like the kitchen, or events with titles like “Good & Cheap: Eating Well on a Limited Budget.”
Commissioner Bill Harris asked how much it would cost the town to continue running the kitchen program after the grant money runs out. Mitchell said that it would cost about $15,000 a year unless the town receives another grant.
Mitchell said the classes had more than 100 participants in pilot programs this past summer and fall.
“We did about 140 students in track-out periods,” he said. “So there is indication that there is interest.”
Doran: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @will_doran