by Marissa Sheldon
Voices into Action hosted the last of our 3 community celebrations on Saturday, June 7, with an event at Chavis Park in Southeast Raleigh. As with the previous events in Lee and Harnett Counties, we wanted to highlight our mini-grantees’ work and present the findings of our research and community food assessments from Southeast Raleigh.
The event opened at 9am, which might have been a little too early for a Saturday morning – the VIA team was still pretty sleepy too! We soon got some energy flowing as Jacque Allen, the instructor for SERA’s Dancing in the Park program, led the VIA team and a few community members in a Zumba session choreographed to up-beat dance style music. After an hour of Zumba, we started right in on some more fitness with the instructors from our mini-grantee Agape Word Fellowship’s bootcamp class – they really pushed us to burn those calories and work up a sweat, as if Zumba wasn’t enough!
The community crowds started trickling in between 10 and 10:30, and by 10:30 the pavilion was packed with people – the majority of our attendees were under the age of 13! We were glad to have so many kid-friendly activities and displays, including food samples from Kids in the Kitchen and EFNEP, a Voices into Action board game and coloring table, and mini-grantees Alliance Medical Ministry and the Poe Center. Alliance Medical Ministry brought pre-planted tomato plants for participants (youth and adults) to take home, and also allowed children to plant their own bean or pea seeds in plastic cups. The Poe Center led kids in a fun “food relay” activity, where the children would bring small grocery carts of food to two baskets with a smiling or frowning face, and they had to decide which foods should go in which category – healthy or unhealthy.
Mini-grantees Neighbor to Neighbor and NC Fair Share also had their own displays for the community participants. By no fault of their own, neither organization was able to provide the activity that they had hoped for – a skateboard demo from Neighbor to Neighbor was denied for liability reasons, and NC Fair Share’s hydroponic gardening equipment was not functioning properly to show a demonstration as planned. Both groups made the best of the situation, though – Neighbor to Neighbor had a photo display and video montage, along with some of the portable equipment from their skate park, and NC Fair Share brought a display board with information about their organization and urban garden mini-grant project. Grocers on Wheels, another mini-grantee, was also on site, selling fresh produce and freshly baked pies.
Towards the end of the morning, Representative Holley spoke very briefly, so as not to interrupt the energy and “mojo” of the activities, as she called it, about the importance of having access to healthy foods, and encouraged everyone to visit the new Gallery Grocery store on Bragg Street.
The last component of the morning’s festivities was the release of our 2014 Southeast Raleigh Food Assessment Report that details the results of our research and community outreach efforts over the past two years. The Voices into Action team has been very excited to share this information with the public, and we are looking forward to continuing our research and outreach efforts over the next few years. Overall, we were quite pleased with the participation, enthusiasm, and community engagement at this event.