Food insecurity is defined as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. According to Feeding America projections, there will be over 42 million people living in food insecurity in 2021. Many of these friends and neighbors also suffer from chronic diseases on top of making hard decisions like whether to buy food or medicine or pay for rent.
The Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina’s Community Health & Nutrition Team collaborates with local partners to intervene and improve chronic disease health outcomes that are exacerbated by food insecurity. Through evidence-based strategies, which include cooking demos, tastings, and recipe distributions, we aim to stop the cycle of food insecurity.
We also recognize that no two communities are the same, and our programming supports specific needs within diverse communities. To find those specific needs, we seek out client feedback to learn the need for both education and foods desired. By listening to our clients’ voices, we have expanded offerings of culturally meaningful foods, translated programming into their native language, and provided additional resources as needed, such as small wares for preparing meals. The Dairy Alliance has provided hundreds of tools for clients to prepare their favorite healthy meal like measuring cups, hot holders, and insulated bags to help keep their food safe.
By including community partners and stakeholders, we can connect with chronic disease management classes, budgeting and financial resources, and health screenings for prevention. These local, community-respected agencies help assure all materials are relevant and accessible to our neighbors. Without the help and partnerships, we couldn’t reach as many communities or empower as many individuals through educational opportunities to help create healthy, sustainable changes in the lives of our friends and neighbors. The Dairy Alliance has been a key partner in many initiatives with the Food Bank, through providing recipes featuring commonly found staple ingredients, nutrition information on milk, and storage tips for clients who may be receiving large amounts of fresh milk. Utilizing this partnership to provide researched-based information has been just one piece of our journey to end hunger. Visit foodbankcenc.org to learn more.
Sara Clement serves as Director of Community Health & Nutrition at the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina and has over 10 years of experience working as a Registered Dietitian with a focus on community health. Sara joined the Food Bank nearly 5 years ago, with a focus on building the organization’s Nutrition Education Program across 34 counties while strengthening partnerships with the Food Bank’s 800 community agencies. She leads the Food Bank’s efforts in garden education programming, food systems, and developing Healthcare Partnerships across the service area. Sara and her team prioritize empowering individuals to make healthy choices for themselves and their families and improving the overall health of communities by identifying the root causes of hunger and health inequities. She graduated from Bridgewater College in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition & Wellness and Allied Health Science and in 2010 received a Bachelor of Science from James Madison University in Dietetics. Sara completed her dietetic internship at Virginia State University in 2011, and lives in Cary, North Carolina, with her family.