All in Buncombe county have access to nutritious food and are inspired to make choices and utilize skills that support a healthy life.

The Experience

When we achieve this result:

  • All in our community, regardless of age, race, gender or income will eat healthy.
  • Individuals will have security in their ability to access needed food for themselves and their families.
  • This includes being inspired to make healthy choices and utilizing skills to make it happen such as cooking, growing, or shopping for their own food
Why Is This Important?

In Buncombe County 14.3% of households experience food insecurity compared to 15.4 % nationally and 17.7% in North Carolina. While we are ahead of these trends, we want to see this number at zero.

Food security means access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life. Food security and health are significantly associated. People who are food insecure are disproportionately affected by diet-sensitive chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure, and according to research, food insecurity is also linked to many adverse effects to overall health.

  • Food insecurity has particularly harmful impacts on children including negative impacts on a child’s physical and mental health, academic achievement and future economic prosperity. Pregnant women who experience food insecurity are more likely to experience birth complications.
  • Seniors face a number of unique medical and mobility challenges that put them at a greater risk of hunger. Many seniors live on fixed incomes and have increased healthcare expenses.
  • African Americans are more likely to suffer from food insecurity as their white, non-Hispanic counterparts. African Americans households are also more likely to experience poverty.
  • Latino adults and children are at greater risk of obesity and diabetes than their African American and White, non-Hispanic peers. Latinos have a higher risk for diabetes and other chronic health conditions that can further complicate the issue of food insecurity. Latino households are also more likely to experience poverty.
  • Rates of food insecurity among rural households are generally higher than urban households. Rural communities face different challenges including concentration of employment in low-wage industries, higher unemployment and underemployment, lower education levels, lower access to work support services, and poor communication and transportation networks.

Food security and food insecurity are two related but different issues. Two resources that provide a more in-depth look at these include Feeding America which focuses primarily on food insecurity and the Appalachian Foodshed Project with their discussion of community food security in Western North Carolina and Buncombe County and some of the root causes and challenges related to creating a food secure

One indicator of improved health behavior and increased security is the number of servings of vegetables that adults consume weekly. In Buncombe County, adults on average consume 9.3 servings of vegetables a week. Because those with food insecurity often consume low-cost food that are less healthy, foods insecurity is closely tied to diabetes prevention and management. In Buncombe County, 7.3% of individuals have diabetes compared to 9.3% nationally and 10.9% in North Carolina, and we would like to see a continued trend downward. Both diabetes and fruit and vegetable consumption is also being monitored by the state through Healthy NC 2020.



Partners identified that diabetes is an important indicator to monitor in regards to food security and vegetable consumption. You can view the Diabetes Work Group result here.

Community-level Indicators
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Partners

ASAP: The Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project's mission is to help local farms thrive, link farmers to markets and supporters, and build healthy communities through connections to local food.

Asheville Buncombe Institute of Parity Achievement (ABIPA): providing education, health services and advocacy from a unique understanding of the African American experience and a demonstrated ability to increase collaboration, connection, awareness and trust across diverse segments of the community.

Asheville Housing Authority: Striving to serve its residents by providing an affordable home and avenues to self-sufficiency.

Asheville Buncombe Food Policy Council: A community-based coalition in the City of Asheville and Buncombe County, North Carolina working to achieve policy improvements that create healthier food environments and improve healthy food access for all Asheville and Buncombe County residents.

Bountiful Cities: Working with communities teaching urban agricultural skills from seed to seed, and advocating for healthy food systems that are accessible to all.

Bounty & Soul: Bounty & Soul is a grassroots, volunteer-run non-profit dedicated to creating a health and wellness movement in underserved communities in Buncombe County. Their fresh, free food markets are providing healthy food along with nutrition awareness and health and wellness resources for children, families, individuals, and seniors who may not have access to these resources.

Buncombe County Health and Human Services:

HHS Community Service Navigators: The CSN initiative was created to connect people with Buncombe County Health and Human Services, strengthen the communities capacity to help meet citizen needs, empower citizens and communities as change agents to promote positive outcomes, build and enhance collaborative partnerships, and reduce over utilization of more costly services.

Minority Health Equity Project: This project bring together five different community partners and the Buncombe County Department of Health to combine our resources to promote health equity

School Health and Migrant Education Program:

Children First/Communities in Schools: A non-profit committed to advocating and empowering children and families living in poverty. This is achieved through education and direct services such as the Family Resource Center at Emma, our after-school Learning Centers, Latino Outreach, Project POWER/AmeriCorps, and Success Coordinators in Emma & Johnston Elementary School.

Cooperative Extension: provides food, nutrition and agricultural education and resources

FEAST Asheville: empower youth and families to grow, prepare and enjoy fruits and vegetables through hands on cooking and garden educationempower youth and families to grow, prepare and enjoy fruits and vegetables through hands on cooking and garden education

Gardens That Give WNC: A network of volunteers, garden managers and other participants representing diverse models of community gardens in WNC and their partners that grow food for donation

MANNA Foodbank: Mountain Area Nutritional Needs Alliance. We are a member of Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger relief organization. MANNA distributed 15.7 million pounds of food through some 229 community-based food assistance agencies in 16 Western North Carolina counties

Mission Health:

Disease Management Programs: Diabetes education and support can mean the difference between a healthy life and one diminished or cut short by the many serious problems faced by people with diabetes. Mission Hospital’s Diabetes Management program provides the educational foundation and tools you need to take charge of the condition.

UNC Asheville-NC Center for Health and Wellness: collecting data and evaluating the program for the Minority Health Equity Project

WIC: Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Supplemental Nutrition Program is designed to improve the health and well-being of low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and postpartum women, infants and children up to age five who are at nutritional risk by providing nutrition education, breastfeeding education and support, referrals for health care, and free language assistance.

YES!: YES!’s Real Food, Active Living team is working to engage and empower young people in community change efforts to increase access to healthy food and active living, and decrease the childhood obesity epidemic.

YMCA:

Federal Nutrition Programs: Summer Food Service serves summer camps and community sites to ensure low-income children get nutritious meals when school is not in session. The Child and Adult Care Food Program that provides nutritious meals and qualifying facilities.

Outreach Programs: Healthy Living Pantry provides nutritious food the families that need temporary food assistance and has cooking demonstrations. The Healthy Living Mobile market distributes mostly produce around the community. Healthy Living Mobile Kitchen is a remodeled bus that functions as a nutrition education and food assistance outreach hub. Share Our Strength's Cook Matters provides nutrition demonstrations.

diabetes prevention program and Taking Control of Type 2

YWCA:

Diabetes Wellness and Prevention Program: Empower individuals with diabetes or those at risk of diabetes to develop the habit of exercise, reduce the incidence of diabetes, through exercise and education that supports healthy eating, promote healthy lifestyle changes for the entire family.

Data Holes

The Community Health Improvement Process team at the Mountain Area Health Education Center is working to illuminate the root causes of food insecurity specific to Buncombe County. Poverty and access to healthy food sources are of particular interest. Quantitative data will illuminate what issues and disparities are occurring. Qualitative data, from focus groups and interviews in the community, will bring information on what the community thinks are the the most important issues and barriers to health. Finally, mapping the data can highlight populations and geographic areas where new health improvement efforts need to be focused.

Community Partners have identified the following holes in data:

  • Measures that appropriately represent economic access. Does "meal gap" data reflect economic access?
  • How do we measure knowledge and skills?
  • What kinds of fruits and vegetables are people eating? (e.g. fresh, frozen or canned)

For additional indicators being monitored, click here.

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