(Chapel Hill, N.C.— April 20, 2017) – Faculty members from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and schools of medicine, education and social work will tackle the issues of local hunger and academic success for North Carolina foster children with funding provided by the 2016 C. Felix Harvey Award to Advance Institutional Priorities.
The Harvey Award reflects a core Carolina value—serving the public good—by recognizing exemplary faculty scholarship that addresses real-world challenges and reflects the University’s commitment to entrepreneurship and innovation.
Dr. Alice Ammerman, director of the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and professor of nutrition, Gillings School of Global Public Health and School of Medicine, will lead a coalition of community partners to increase access to healthy food for low-income consumers.
“This venture provides access to healthy food for low-income community members while also providing economic opportunities for local farmers and retailers,” said Ammerman. “The project will develop a sales model with dual price points—full price or slightly higher at an upscale food store, and significantly reduced prices at four small community grocery stores.”
The group will use local food production facilities and seasonally available local food to create healthy frozen meals that will be offered for sale at local markets. While inspired by the Mediterranean diet, the recipes will be adapted for the southern palate, featuring southern vegetables and locally produced meats. Local partners include Weaver Street Market, Carolina student start-up Seal the Seasons and Farmer Foodshare among others.
This year, through the generosity of the McNairy Foundation and the C. Felix Harvey Award endowment, a second award will fund a team developing a program to meet the academic needs of children in foster care: Dr. Molly Berkoff, associate professor of pediatrics and medical director of the Child Medical Evaluation Program and Child Protection Team, School of Medicine; Dr. Robert Martinez Jr., assistant professor, School of Education; and Laura Phipps, clinical assistant professor at the Family and Children’s Resource Program, Jordan Institute for Families at the School of Social Work.
Together, they will develop an online training toolkit to guide child welfare social workers as they assist foster care children and advocate for their academic needs. Some studies show that less than 60 percent of students in foster care finish high school, and among those who do, only 3 percent pursue postsecondary education. Though North Carolina currently has a strong child welfare system, there are no training tools focused on the specific academic needs of foster children. This project will assist with development of resources for both child welfare and the North Carolina school system to use in local districts.
“I’m very passionate about this work,” said Berkoff. “Since I arrived at Carolina in 2003, I’ve worked with children who have been victims of abuse and neglect, focusing on their medical needs. Many of them are in foster care and over time I realized that we could work better with our partners in the school system and the child welfare system to meet their educational needs.”
The late C. Felix Harvey was chairman of Harvey Enterprises & Affiliates and founder of the Little Bank Inc., both in Kinston, North Carolina. A 1943 Carolina graduate, he joined his family in 2007 to endow the award with a $2 million commitment. Five generations of Harveys have earned UNC-Chapel Hill degrees.