Hi all!! Wow, how has March already flown by!? Even with an extra day, February flew by too. March is National Nutrition Month and building off of our last health blog, I’m excited to share the work that is being done in the community to help us all eat a little bit healthier. I also want to highlight what resources we have in the community if you are interested to learn more about nutrition and how to put together a healthy meal.
One organization that I would love to tell you about is Bread Riot. Bread Riot has a great backstory here in Rowan County as a food advocacy organization. The story goes that in Salisbury, women had to fight back from men who had locked up the flour, sugar, and canned goods for food rationing during wartime. The police guarding the food were extorting the poor women left at home. With pitchforks in hand, they were able to break into the locked space to equally and equitably re-distribute the food. (https://blogs.lib.unc.edu/ncm/index.php/2005/03/01/this_month_march_1863/) The “Living Our Dream” mural in downtown has a sign commemorating the Bread Riot and the long history Salisbury has for the fight for access to food.
Bread Riot co-founder, Carol Schmitz-Corken, already works hard to connect consumers and farmers throughout the county. In addition, this year she also received an award in Raleigh as 1 of 100 individuals in NC that is addressing childhood hunger and food insecurity. Her passion to address food insecurity and to inform citizens about healthy (and easy) options has led to a great partnership with our local Head Start day-cares. You may remember from January’s blog we shared a program called “Go NAPSACC” and highlighted the changes happening in early childcare centers. This program, “Share the Harvest,” builds on those initiatives by providing a box of food and cooking tools to families served by Head Start. Through grant funding, Carol teaches healthy recipes that use local produce on site at the Head Start centers. At the end of the class, families took home their food boxes with recipes in hand.
Getting Healthy with RoCO
Rowan County has many organizations working to get healthy foods into the hands of those most in need. The Rowan County Health Department has a wonderful WIC (Women, Infant, and Children’s Nutrition) program that you may have heard about, but not know all the details. WIC was established as a permanent program in 1974 to safeguard the health of low-income women, infants, and children up to age five who are at nutritional risk. This mission is carried out by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, nutrition education (including breastfeeding promotion and support), and referrals to health and other social services. Find out more: http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/about-wic-wic-glance.
Rowan County Health Department is proud to provide the community with WIC because it is designed to supplement dietary needs and provide citizens nutritional advice. This initiative helps children even before they are born by providing supplemental nutrition for women who are pregnant. Did you know that research shows us that what a woman eats during pregnancy can have major, life-long effects on a person? WIC nutritionists are able to create dietary plans that meet the needs of all citizens – even those who live outside of Rowan County. In addition, Rowan WIC provides breastfeeding support and peer counseling for new moms and has even been designated as a “Breastfeeding Friendly” site by the North Carolina Breastfeeding Coalition. Rowan WIC Director Shanelle Wilkey said, “WIC is an essential service that meets the needs of over 4,000 clients monthly here at the Rowan County Health Department. WIC meetings allow us the chance to provide evidence-based nutritional information and help everyone make healthier choices at the grocery store. Many families need WIC at some point in time and we are proud to offer this service to Rowan County.”
Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program for WIC and for Seniors
Each year in addition to benefits at the grocery store, WIC provides vouchers for fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmer’s market! How cool is that? Not only does this help our local agri-business, it also exposes community members to eat seasonally and locally. Here is a great tool to see what sorts of fruits and vegetables are in season: http://www.ncagr.gov/markets/availabilitychart.pdf.
Did you know there is also a Seniors Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program as well? Similar to the WIC Farmer’s Market Nutrition program, this initiative targets congregate nutrition site participants with coupons to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables at their local farmers markets. Rufty-Holmes Senior Center would be the point of contact to learn more and receive these vouchers. The program is designed to improve the nutrition of older adults and increase business for local farmers. It is also meant to help improve the nutrition of older adults and help revitalize rural areas by promoting our farmer’s market. Though vouchers come in later in the season, seniors can take advantage of our great Salisbury-Rowan Farmer’s Market and select healthy items. We have a wonderful Farmer’s Market that will be opening at a new location – which opens April 18th, at 228 E. Kerr St. featuring a covered shelter, and of course, all of your favorite vendors!
Finally, we know that many people might be interested in cooking demonstrations and similar opportunities that Carol Corken provided families at Head Start. We are launching a new campaign to bring cooking and nutrition classes to Rowan County! Voice your interest here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/RowanNutritionSurvey
Now that we finally have kids back in school and pre-school, the age-old problem of what to pack for lunch and snacks has surfaced. How do I pack things they will eat but that are also nutritious?
The win for Rowan County was to have an infusion of 22 plus students each year, many bringing families along and staying two years. Many of the students are newcomers to our community choosing to house locally, frequenting our wonderful restaurants, shopping, and joining in on the events of our community such as the Dragon Boat Race and the Hospital Foundation Patron’s Ball. One of the motivations of the medical center is hosting the medical students was to introduce them to Rowan County with the hopes that they would return to establish their practice here once their training was complete. Rowan County has so much to offer for these students. The loft apartments in downtown Salisbury are an attractive option for many, and the new Bell Tower Green is anxiously awaited. The students are quite a diverse group and include some who graduated from our local high schools and went on to college and medical school, to others from across the nation. All are US citizens, and there is about a 50/50 male to female split, with all being under the age of 30.
As we head into the second summer of COVID 19 we are hopeful of being able to safely enjoy “eating out” and the many wonderful restaurants Rowan County has to offer. We are thankful that many of our restaurants have survived the pandemic and we look forward to eating locally and helping them thrive once again.