UNC Chapel Hill is one of 14 campuses who took the Statewide Challenge to End Hunger. Below are highlights from these ongoing programs and partnerships submitted by Brittany Corn, 2011-12 NC Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA at UNC.
Carolina Campus Community Garden (CCCG)
The CCCG grows vegetables and fruit so that all employees have access to fresh sustainable grown produce through the efforts of students, faculty, staff, and local residents. Currently the harvested produce goes to UNC housekeepers working all three shifts. We recently began to offer cooking demonstrations at our produce distributions. A local chef cooks up a dish using garden produce that is easy to prepare, nutritious, and affordable.
Founded in 2007, TABLE, Inc. is Carrboro-based, non-profit hunger relief organization that focuses exclusively on local childhood hunger. Every week, TABLE puts healthy food, including fresh produce, directly into the hands of over 130 Chapel Hill & Carrboro elementary school children who would otherwise go hungry on weekends and other times of the year when free school meals are unavailable. TABLE brings together UNC students and community members to get food to local hungry youngsters and to raise awareness of local childhood hunger.
TABLE offers 4 hunger relief programs for local children:
• The Weekend Meal Backpack Program fills children’s bookbags/backpacks with healthy food for the weekends when free public school breakfasts and lunches are not available.
• TABLE To Go gets nutritious food to hungry children during school vacations and summer months.
• Farm to TABLE provides hungry youngsters with both fresh produce and fresh food snacks through partnerships with other non-profits and local businesses.
• TABLE for Two sends college student mentors to encourage children in low income communities to eat fresh
foods and make healthy eating choices.
HOPE Gardens is making many efforts to address food insecurity. In addition to having established connections with local food pantries and like-minded businesses such as Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe, we have a sponsored plot program through which low-income individuals or families can produce vegetables in one of our annually-leased plots without paying. The sponsored gardener can then benefit from growing and eating fresh local produce without cost, and from the community support system incorporated in the Gardens’ infrastructure.
In addition, we host on-site workshops that focus on particular aspects of gardening in an effort to increase access to knowledge about sustainable agriculture, growing techniques, and other relevant topics. We also have a new project called HOPE Cooks,
through which we partner with the residents of HomeStart Women and Children’s shelter in order to promote good nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices. Through a series of workshops on gardening, cooking, and eating, we stimulate discussion and healthy living.
Finally, we are in the process of piloting a food access program that sells our fresh, locally-grown, sustainable produce at reduced prices to the under-served communities of Chapel Hill and Carrboro. The target population for this service is residents in low-income housing, with an initial focus on individual with whom we have a relationship through the Community Empowerment Fund, a partner organization.