by Annie Hardison-Moody
Faithful Families is excited to partner with Voices into Action: The families, food and health project in Harnett, Lee and Wake counties in North Carolina. One of the goals of the Harnett Voices into Action: Empowering and Serving Harnett County Through the Families, Food, and Health Project committee has been to bring nutrition education, through programs like the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) to food pantries in Western Harnett County. We are currently piloting this through a partnership with Martha’s Place Food Pantry, which is a faith-based food pantry with leadership from Solid Rock United Methodist Church and partners across the county.
I’ve been lucky enough to get to go to many of these classes, taught by Debbie Stephenson from Harnett County Cooperative Extension. The classes have helped participants to prepare and eat more meals at home, shop for value and health, and to get more physical activity into their everyday life. Debbie starts each class with a short walking DVD. In just fifteen minutes, we have walked one whole mile! Participants will get a copy of the DVD and a cookbook with healthy, affordable recipes at their final class next week.
In addition to learning about how to prepare and eat healthy foods, the classes have incorporated fresh produce from the Ebenezer Community Garden in the weekly food demonstrations and taste tests. We have sampled smoothies with fresh blackberries and a delicious bean salad with fresh lima beans! Each week, participants leave with the recipe they have tasted in class to try on their own at home.
This class represents the great partnerships that can happen when faith communities, food pantries and Cooperative Extension work together. We hope to have many more collaborations like this one, through both EFNEP and Faithful Families Eating Smart and Moving More, in the counties we serve.
Through Voices into Action’s community-based action groups in Wake, Harnett and Lee County, we are learning that faith-based and community food pantries are doing a great deal to increase access to food to the populations they serve. Through partnerships like this one with Martha’s Place, we hope to increase access to and knowledge about healthy foods as well.
For more information about the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program in North Carolina visit their website.