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Researchers at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP), in partnership with Duke researchers and community members, will create a regional food center in Warren County through a grant from the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center.

The Rural Economic Development Center funded 46 grants totaling $5.4 million to be used in 40 counties across the state in an effort to create jobs, provide clean water and stimulate economic growth. The grants will create or retain 1,400 jobs and assist various pre-existing programs. The HPDP grant, led by Dr. Molly DeMarco, is funded for $74,909.

The food center in Warren County will assist local farmers in marketing and packaging produce in order to obtain a greater share of regional wholesale markets. Collaborators on the project include the Warren County Cooperative Extension Service, the Warren County Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program, researchers at Duke University, local businesses and Working Landscapes, a non-profit. The initiative will create two jobs, retain nine existing jobs and serve 5 businesses by providing them with locally grown produce.

“We are very happy to have received this grant,” said DeMarco.” It will allow HPDP to continue our work to improve health in new ways. In this case, we will link small farmers to low-income individuals in close collaboration with those who live in the community.”

Other HPDP projects currently at work in Warren County are FoodCorps, a new national AmeriCorps service program that aims to serve vulnerable children by improving access to healthy, affordable food and Harvest of Hope project, which partners with Coley Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Warrenton to help create a church-based community garden to bring the same healthy food to the community as a whole. The Faith, Farming and the Future Project (F3) expands the church garden to help youth learn about improving access to healthy food, increasing physical activity and options in agricultural careers.

Rev. William Kearney of Coley Springs Missionary Baptist Church and community partner to the HPDP studies, said the new food center was a great opportunity for the researchers? to connect with community resources.

“We’re hoping to build capacity of our church so that when changes do come to the county, we can participate,” said Kearney. “Whether growing vegetables at church and contributing to market, or actually creating a farm to feed markets around the area, it helps that effort.”

HPDP addresses pressing health problems by collaborating with communities to conduct research, provide training, and translate research findings into policy and practice.

Kasey Rankin
HPDP Communications Intern


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