In 2017 the food access/food justice circle of DFFN focused on four areas:
1) Addressing root causes: The Food and More project seeks to empower food pantry clients to overcome barriers to food independence, and encourage food pantry operators to help their patrons access services that will improve their possibilities for food independence.
Key elements were:
a. the mobile resource hub The Information Station (I.S.):
Volunteers meet individually with food pantry clients waiting in line for the food service. They offer guidance on food resources, entitlements, health care options, senior services, and emergency financial, housing, and employment support. In 8 months we linked over 500 people to resources tailored to their specific needs.
b. The Innovations grant program: Pantry directors helped clients plant home container gardens, enjoy shopping carts in a new client choice set up, improve nutrition knowledge with tastings and cooking classes, and, in a mostly Spanish-speaking pantry, learn English.
2) Improving food quality and nutritional knowledge in food pantries: EHD facilitated a collaboration between the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, and the Durham County Dept. of Public Health to offer three nutrition education workshops for food pantry directors. The goal was to empower these leaders to pass on nutrition information, and if possible healthier food, to their clients. Follow-up site visits by DDPH nutritionists will reinforce the workshops and evaluate their effectiveness.
3) Focusing on Senior hunger: Together with Durham Congregations in Action, EHD invited individuals and agencies working on senior issues to focus attention on the problem of hunger among seniors. This led to an active Senior Food and Nutrition Committee within the Partnership of Seniors. A sub-committee on outreach and access has facilitated 3 meetings with residents of low income housing, seeking collaborative solutions. Another sub-committee will advocate for policies important to food for seniors.
4) Planning Policy Change Initiatives: EHD has launched two major policy initiatives:
a) a sign-on campaign to protect SNAP (food stamps) and other federal nutrition programs from cuts, block grants, and other structural changes.
b) a staffed office on food security in local government to coordinate and provide direction to the many disparate efforts to end hunger.
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