Even though it is taking time, the Foothills Food Hub is making progress toward helping local people get the healthy, fresh foods they need and support local farmers.

In the latest development, the Food Hub received an almost $40,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina to install a walk-in cooler that will support area farmers and help in the distribution of locally grown food.

Recently, the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina (CFWNC) approved six focus area grants totaling $379,787 to support regional projects in Early Childhood Development, Food and Farming, and Natural and Cultural Resources as well as $200,000 to expand a matched-savings program at OnTrack Financial Education and Counseling funded through the People in Need focus area.

The Foundation’s focus areas were identified to benefit the region and enable the Foundation to work strategically in specified areas of need. Grants are made through significant staff collaboration with regional non-profits to identify funding opportunities. The grants were approved by the Foundation’s Board on Aug. 28. The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina (CFWNC) works with families, businesses and nonprofits to strengthen communities through the creation of charitable funds and strategic grant making.

One of those six focus area grants was $39,787 awarded to the McDowell Local Food Advisory Committee. This money will be used to purchase and install a walk-in cooler at the Foothills Food Hub for McDowell County, according to a news release.

Food Hub Director Heather Edwards said to The McDowell News more specifically the grant will go toward installing drainage, plumbing and the walk-in cooler for the 9,000-square-foot section of the Nebo Crossing building at 263 Barnes Road.

“We are incredibly honored to once again partner with the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina,” she said to The McDowell News. “This grant will go to help support local farmers, the backbone of our food system. We can’t wait to get started.”

The cooler will assist in the storage, sale and distribution of locally-produced food. Donated produce destined for a network of hunger relief agencies will also have access. The Yeager-Cole Fund and Peterson Endowment Fund partnered with CFWNC to fund this grant, according to the news release.

For now, Edwards and her volunteers are temporarily using a space inside the Nebo Crossing building until the hub is completed in the 9,000-square-foot section, which will be located elsewhere in the building.

When it is complete, the hub will have:

» Food pantry storage and packing

» Farm fresh produce wash line, cold storage and distribution

» A teaching kitchen for cooking and other classes

» A commercial kitchen for meal preparation, value added processing and food entrepreneur development.

It will be there for restaurant owners who wish to become more of the farm-to-table movement and local churches providing food for the hungry in our community. Through the hub, small business owners will have a place to make their food products. It won’t be available to just farmers and food-related business owners from McDowell County but to others across the region as well.

The hub will have refrigerators, freezers and other equipment needed for the storage of food. It will be a central place where local pantries and ministries can get food items from MANNA FoodBank in Asheville.

But much more remains to be done before the Food Hub, as envisioned by its leaders, can become a reality.

Edwards said the completed hub will be a $1.3 million project. She and other leaders in this effort are waiting to hear about a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The hub is also seeking grant funding from the Gateway Wellness Foundation and the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, she added.

In the meantime, volunteers help with its operation.

On Thursday morning, a dozen volunteers gathered at the temporary location for the Food Hub in the back section of the Nebo Crossing building. Every other Thursday, volunteers come to receive food that is brought here from MANNA Foodbank in Asheville so they can distribute it to local food banks or agencies.

Typically, the food brought here from MANNA consists of non-perishable products, frozen meats, produce, breads and some sweets. When the food is delivered to the hub, the volunteers work to distribute it to local agencies or churches. On Thursday, the list consisted of Centro-Unido Latino-Americano, Clinchfield United Methodist Church, New Testament Church, Care Net Counseling, New Hope of McDowell, Blue Ridge Terrace Apartments and East Marion Pentecostal Holiness Church. They use the box truck owned by Caleb Parker of Fat Boys Burritos and Smokey Que’s to deliver the food.

The list of agencies receiving the delivered food varies from week to week.

“Sometimes, we will have more,” said Edwards. “Sometimes, we will have less.”

Other food is left at the hub so other agencies can come by and pick it up when it is convenient for them. These agencies can include the Community Care Paramedic Program by McDowell EMS, the MATCH program and Brandy’s Project, which is a peer support group for people in recovery.

City Councilman Woody Ayers is one of those volunteers who assist with the food distribution. He said to The McDowell News he’s been trying to help out at the hub every time they get a delivery, which is every two weeks and he’s been doing it for the past two to three months.

“To me it’s a way to give back and also to help raise awareness of the need in the community,” he said to The McDowell News.

A few months ago, Edwards made a presentation to the Marion City Council about the need for the hub, the work that has been done and what the future plans are.

In a previous story, Edward said to local officials that 25.8 percent of children in McDowell live in households that are food insecure or in other words, they don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Statistics show 59 percent of the children in McDowell live in poor or low-income homes and 15 percent of the total population is food insecure. Meanwhile, adult obesity in McDowell is 27 percent.

Ayers said he was surprised when he heard how many people in our community are food insecure and it motivated him to help out with this effort.

“As a municipal council, we can’t really fund social programs, so I felt like I could personally give my time and effort towards such a good cause,” he said to The McDowell News.

I’d love to see the hub find more funding. The vision and heart behind it are truly meaningful and the administration of it is highest quality, so it’s easy to get behind.”

City Manager Bob Boyette said the City Council has expressed support for the Foothills Food Hub project.

“However, because this is a social service-type activity, the city cannot provide funding under state law,” said Boyette, adding the city of Marion has written letters of support to help Foothills Food Hub get grant funding.

Likewise, Edwards also asked for the McDowell County Commissioners for a financial commitment for the Food Hub. It was not included in the county’s budget, said County Manager Ashley Wooten.

Honoring Sue Glovier

The McDowell County office of the N.C. Cooperative Extension will hold a special event at 4 p.m. Monday, Sept. 30 at the McDowell Senior Center in Marion. This event will both honor the life and work of Sue Glovier and kick off the fund-raising campaign for the Food Hub’s teaching kitchen.

“The Foothills Food Hub and McDowell Local Food Advisory Council could not be more proud to kick off fund-raising efforts to provide more educational programming in foods and nutrition than by officially naming the Sue Glovier Teaching Kitchen on Sept. 30, 2019,” reads a news release. “Come learn more about the Foothills Food Hub and Teaching Kitchen while we honor Sue Glovier for all her contributions to McDowell County.”

This event is free, but attendees are asked to register through the Cooperative Extension.

Glovier was awarded the 2013 Governor’s Medallion Award for Volunteer Service, a volunteer service award for the top volunteers in the state. Much of that honor is due to her work with the Extension Community Association as well as other community service efforts. She’s been involved with reunions, McDowell Hospice, senior home-bound meals, Christmas depot meals, Pioneer Day, Oktoberfest, 4-H clubs and other Extension events.

Her working days were spent with McDowell County Schools until she retired in 1995. She started in 1950 and taught biology and home economics in North Cove. Her next endeavor was to lead the Vocational Home Economics Department at Old Fort Vocational School in 1957. She stayed there until opening the Child Development Center at the high school in 1992. It was in 1993 that she made the switch to become director of food services for McDowell County Schools. She held that position until she retired, according to the news release.

“Food, eating healthy, and helping others learn how to prepare healthy meals has always been part of Sue’s life,” reads the news release. “Given that history, allowing for the teaching kitchen to be in her name will continue Sue’s contribution to families learning to prepare and experience healthy meals far into the future. Sue Glovier has been an instrumental part of our county. It is with honor that we name the teaching kitchen in the Foothills Food Hub after her. She has served Old Fort and McDowell County throughout her life.”

For more information about the event on Monday, Sept. 30, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sue-glovier-kitchen-celebration-tickets-73579631659

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