by Josephine McKelvy, Marissa Sheldon, and Lilly O’Connell
Here are the remaining updates on our 2014 Wake County mini-grantees!
The staff of Passage Home wears many hats to help families become self-sufficient. Some of their services include after-school tutoring, feeding the community, and helping families move into permanent housing, among other goals. As a recipient of a VIA mini-grant, Passage Home integrated physical activity and healthy meals into their summer camp. The grant went toward hiring a trainer and buying equipment, such as stretchy exercise bands and instructional DVDs, for the morning activities. They also worked with the Expanded Food Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) to teach kids how to fix healthy snacks from vegetables in their Kids Zone Garden.
At the Raleigh Safety Club & Community Center, we chatted with Lisa Crosslin and Kristian Jones, who shared with us some of Passage Home’s future projects as well as some of the challenges they face. With a brand-new commercial kitchen, Passage Home can provide healthy meals in-house as well as be a place where youths can learn entrepreneurial skills for food service jobs. Across the street from the community center is the colorful Kidz Zone Garden, where kids and youth can grow vegetables to sell at the community dinners.
Like many nonprofit organizations, Passage Home needs volunteers to keep their mission going. If their projects and mission have piqued your interest, check out their website at https://www.passagehome.org/volunteer/ or call Volunteer Coordinator Lisa Johns at (919) 834-0666 extension 233. There are plenty of opportunities whether you are interested in tutoring, career mentoring, or serving meals at the community dinners!
Farm it Forward
In a conference room on a late October evening, a group of mothers and daughters from Mount Peace Baptist Church sat down together to share the dinner they just made. The Farm it Forward program was developed by Dr. Carol Mitchell, a nutritionist at Wake County Cooperative Extension. The program uses on the traditional EFNEP (Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program) curriculum, with a focus on local foods provided by a local farmer. Kristin Larson and Emma D’Allaird, Wake County EFNEP Program Associates, present nutrition and cooking lessons to the moms and their daughters, everyone participates in cooking the evening meal, and then parents and children have a chance to eat together and taste the fruits of their labor. This partnership between Cooperative Extension and Mount Peace builds on the success of Mount Peace’s participation in the Faithful Families program and Mount Peace’s commitment to promoting healthy lifestyles among their congregation.
VIA provided a mini-grant towards providing cooking equipment and local produce that the participants can take home with them, so they can practice replicating on their own what they learned in class. When we visited, the adults and youth split up, and the adults learned about food safety while the girls learned about knife skills and safety. All participants, of all ages, played a role in cooking dinner for the evening. The menu that night was: eggplant and spaghetti, roasted butternut squash, turnips and greens sautéed in sesame oil, and sautéed kale. These vegetables and recipes are also part of the goody bags that the families took home after class. It was wonderful to see the women and children enjoying themselves while they learned new recipes and tried new, healthy foods!
Fertile Ground Food Cooperative
A dedicated team of Southeast Raleigh residents and advocates are working to launch the Fertile Ground Food Cooperative, a multi-stakeholder cooperative grocery store that will be located in Southeast Raleigh. Fertile Ground launched their membership campaign in July, and their numbers are growing quickly with individuals who are excited about bringing healthy, affordable food to the neighborhood. Leaders within Fertile Ground, including longtime resident Erin Byrd and ally Zulayka Santiago, are working to increase membership and to raise awareness of their initiative. Zulayka explained that Fertile Ground stands for many things—healthy food, a grocery store in the Southeast Raleigh community, and a community gathering space—among others. The leaders and Board of Directors – elected in October – are committed to creating an inviting space for residents of Southeast Raleigh to get healthy, affordable food, especially in light of how far many residents must travel to reach a supermarket.
Fertile Ground launched a crowdfunding campaign in December to raise the needed funds to hire a project manager. Click here to help support the cause! Fertile Ground Food Cooperative has monthly meetings open to the public, and you can stay up-to-date on their events and meetings by liking their Facebook page or emailing Erin or Zulayka to get on the mailing list.