Second Harvest Food Bank opens mobile unitBy Yasmine Regester, Peacemaker Staff Writer / November 4, 2022
Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest N.C. and UnitedHealthcare unveiled a new mobile food pantry partnership and teaching kitchen at a ribbon cutting event in Greensboro on October 18.
And on Monday, November 14, the mobile pantry will make its community debut at Hall Tower Apartments on North Church Street, a Greensboro Housing Authority senior living facility.
“This work really requires a lot of collaboration, so having our partnership with UnitedHealthcare is amazing,” said Kina Charles, Director of Nutrition Services at Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest N.C. “Anything that we can do to increase access to healthy foods is a plus. We recognize that one significant barrier for many people, especially seniors, is transportation. Reaching those who can’t reach the brick-and-mortar food banks is the driver.”
While in the community, the mobile food bank will provide fresh produce, teach kitchen demonstrations, distribute educational resources, and conduct minor health screenings like blood pressure checks. Volunteers will also be on hand to sign people up for county-led Food and Nutrition services, like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).
A $200,000 grant from UnitedHealthcare has helped push this initiative forward and provided funds for the purchase of the vehicle, the renovations, vehicle maintenance, and the fresh produce for residents. The goal is to provide healthy foods to impoverished neighborhoods in the Greensboro area.
“Social and economic factors have a profound impact on achieving and maintaining good health,” said Anita Bachmann, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of North Carolina. “Through Empowering Health grants, we’re working with local organizations to provide North Carolinians with greater access to essential resources in high-risk and high-need communities so they can live healthier lives.”
Organizers say that access to healthy food is vital to supporting the overall health of North Carolina residents. According to the 2021 America’s Health Rankings Report, 12.1 percent of households in North Carolina face food insecurity, ranking the state 40th in the nation. This initiative is part of UnitedHealthcare’s continued commitment to fighting food insecurity and redefining healthcare for uninsured, underserved, and vulnerable minority communities in North Carolina and across the country.
Second Harvest serves as the primary source for food for a network of more than 500 local food assistance programs (pantries, community kitchens, shelters, and meals programs for children and seniors) serving communities throughout 18 Northwest North Carolina counties.
A Second Harvest Food Bank is on Phillips Ave. It works as a satellite location for the organization. The newly built main headquarters for food storage and distribution, as well as housing for offices and culinary training facilities, is in Whitaker Park, 3330 Shorefair Drive, Winston-Salem, N.C. A grand opening event for the new facility is on November 6, at 6 p.m. featuring a one-of-a-kind Farm-to-Table dinner, that is bringing local farmers, chefs, and restaurants together to support the mission and work of Second Harvest Food Bank.
“We are very excited to have this mobile unit to go out into our communities and service areas. The purpose is to create access to healthy foods for residents in Greensboro. We also want to provide nutrition education that will build confidence around preparing healthy meals, through fun and engaging experiences,” said Charles.
Mobile food bank attendees will receive a bag of groceries and get the opportunity to pick up recipes and sample foods being prepared as part of the kitchen demonstrations. The mobile pantry will also be visiting schools in the future in order to share nutrition education with students and parents.
Since its inception in 1982, the Second Harvest Food Bank has worked to bridge connections between food insecure communities to businesses and community partners that work to address that need.
“We also recognize how personal an individual’s relationship with food is. A person’s cultural background has a huge impact on the relationship with food. So that is why we are very sensitive towards our education, intervention, tools and foods we will be distributing,” said Charles.
Nutrition educators are all N.C. licensed dietitians working with Second Harvest. There will be translators on site as well.
For more information visit www.secondharvestnwnc.org.
Courtesy Second Harvest Food Bank
Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest N.C. and United Healthcare partner for a new mobile food pantry.
Cap 2 Employees and volunteers with Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina during unveiling of mobile food pantry.