A group of northern Wake County leaders hopes to alleviate food insecurity and inspire a new crop of gardeners by giving away seed-planting kits.
The 200 kits include a small pot, cabbage or collard seeds, soil and an instruction packet.
Members of the Northern Regional Center’s Community Advisory Committee assembled the kits Wednesday at New Bethel Baptist Church in Rolesville. The event kicked off the committee’s new annual goal to get more fresh produce in the hands of people who aren’t sure where their next meal may come from.
“The hope is people will take these, have a little success, and hopefully they will go and get some more seeds,” said Ross Yeager, director of the Wake County Northern Regional Center.
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The advisory committee consists of about 12 nonprofit, church and government organizations from Rolesville, Wake Forest and North Raleigh. The group chose to focus on hunger issues this year because it is a problem for some of the nearly 160,000 residents the regional center serves.
In 2013, 19.6 percent of children in Wake County lived in homes that were food insecure, and 14 percent of the overall population in Wake was food insecure, according to statistics published by the UNC School of Government.
The advisory committee is integral in helping community service organizations work together on a common goal because they don’t always coordinate efforts, Yeager said.
“There is not a lot of cohesion out there,” he said. “These folks don’t have an opportunity to come together like this in any other form.”
The Northern Regional Center, on East Holding Avenue in downtown Wake Forest, is one of several human services hubs in the county where residents can get a copy of their birth certificates or pay taxes. The centers also serve as resources for residents who need food and nutrition assistance or health or day care services.
Yeager said he hopes residents who pick up the seed kits will spend some time learning about the regional center and also about community organizations like New Bethel Church.
The church has a food pantry that provides groceries to about about 1,300 people each month, said Eugenia Pleasant, outreach coordinator. The church also offers free clothing and serves a hot meal once every three months.
“Our focus has always been on the less fortunate, and that would be the people who are homeless or dealing with food insecurity,” Pleasant said.
The food pantry draws people from Rolesville, but also from communities like Zebulon, Henderson and Bunn, she said.
The seed kits fit in well with the church’s mission, which is to help people in northern Wake County.
“We are about outreach,” Pleasant said. “We are about whatever we can assist in the community with families that are in need.”
Andrew Brown, Wake Forest’s customer service manager, was busy assembling the kits on Wednesday, plunking a little bag of soil and a small packet of seeds into a pot before passing it along to be packaged.
Part of his job at the town involves talking to people who can’t pay their utility bills. More than once, Brown said, he has steered people toward community organizations for help.
He hopes the kits provide a little extra produce for families, or perhaps spark a larger interest that leads to a community garden in Wake Forest.
“If this program continues to grow,” he said “the town would be a willing partner to help sustain it.”
Chris Cioffi, 919-829-4802, @ReporterCioffi
Find out more
To find out how to get a seed-planting kit, call Andrew Brown at 919-435-9466, or go to the Wake County Northern Regional Center, 350 E. Holding Ave., Wake Forest.