Will Lambe is the Director of the Community & Economic Development Program and the Community-Campus Partnership.
Annually, the North Carolina Department of Commerce analyzes the economic well-being of the state’s 100 counties and assigns each to a designation. The 40 most economically distressed counties are designated as Tier 1, the next 40 as Tier 2 and the 20 least economically distressed as Tier 3 (map here for 2012 rankings). In general, Tier I counties tend to have limited capacity for carrying out community and economic development and therefore have a greater need for resources and strategic partnerships.
UNC Chapel Hill faculty, staff and students (and associated centers, institutes, schools, etc) are engaged in creative partnerships with Tier I counties across North Carolina. This post is the first in a series that will highlight community and economic development partnerships between Tier I counties and UNC. The purpose of this series is to provide examples of projects, for potential or future community partners, in which UNC resources have been available to assist Tier I counties.
Warren County, NC
The UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP) addresses pressing health problems by collaborating with communities to conduct research, provide training, and translate research findings into policy and practice. HPDP works in communities across North Carolina, but the following health-related development initiatives have been carried out in partnership with leaders in Warren County.
- Produce Packs: HPDP, the NC Rural Center, Working Landscapes, and farmers in Warren County have come together to help low-income residents using WIC Cash-Value Vouchers (CVVs) to buy local fresh fruits and vegetables. The team is working to bundle local produce into packs that are priced to correspond with CVVs; packs do not need to be bagged, measured or weighed, making the shopping process easier and ensuring that low-income shoppers do not leave change on the table (consumers are not allowed to collect change from CVVs). Program is designed to improve healthy food access through corner stores while creating a new market for small, low-resource farmers.
- FoodCorps: HPDP, in partnership with a local organization and the Warren County School System, are providing a service site for a FoodCorps member to live for a year in Warren County. The FoodCorps member, analogous to AmeriCorps—but focused on food related issues, will work to set up or rehabilitate school gardens at local schools and work with the county’s child nutrition director to source more NC-grown products.
- Harvest of Hope project: HPDP partners with 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.
Molly Demarco, Project Director and Research Fellow at the UNC Center for Health Promotion & Disease Prevention, is leading the center’s efforts in Warren County.
Will Lambe authored the NC Rural Center report, Small Towns, Big Ideas, and he served as Director of the Community and Economic Development Program at the School of Government from 2009 to 2014.