Food for the greater community

Posted on November 22, 2016

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Trying to make sure everyone in our community has access to quality food is no small task. But a multidisciplinary approach may be the key for Guilford County.

Dr. Marianne LeGreco is a faculty member in Communication Studies, and Dr. Stephen Sills in Sociology, but their work with the Center for Housing and Community Studies allows them to focus on local issues in collaboration with faculty and students from at least six other UNCG departments. Those include Geography, Nutrition, Public Health, Computer Science, the Nursing School and Environmental Studies and Sustainability. Among the Center’s nonprofit partners are the Guilford County Cooperative Extension Office, Greensboro Farmers Market and the Out of the Garden Project.

That widespread collaboration, they say, was crucial to the City of Greensboro’s recent attainment of the $470,000 Local Food Promotion Program Implementation grant for its Fresh Food Access Plan.

LeGreco has been involved in community food concerns since 2007, eight years before the Greensboro-High Point metropolitan area was ranked by the Food Research & Action Network as No. 1 in food hardship rates nationally. In 2014, Greensboro received a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant of $25,000 for an assessment of food resources, which meant that LeGreco, her colleagues, and her nonprofit partners were able to begin the task of methodically assessing Greensboro’s food access needs. They investigated Guilford County’s food deserts, or areas with very limited access to fresh food, and they hosted events such as Local Food Storm, where they mapped food access in Guilford County. To this end, LeGreco worked with Sills and the Center for Housing and Community Studies. Due to their work alongside others, the Greensboro-High Point area has moved from No. 1 to No. 9 in its food hardship rate.

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