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Mobile Kitchen brings healthy food options to the community


Brent Hampton with the Blairton Hampton Family Community Health Initiative and N’gai Dickerson, mobile kitchen chef and manager. Photo by Yasmine Regester/Carolina Peacemaker[/caption]A community partnership is providing underserved communities with nutritious food options.

Local minority business leaders gathered at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro on March 21 to learn more about the Hampton Family Mobile Kitchen and to discuss ways to pro-mote healthy living in communities of color.

North Carolina is ranked 9th in food insecurity, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. As a metropolitan area, Greensboro is one of the worst in the nation for food insecurity, with 17 census tracts designated as food deserts.

Merle Green, Health Director of the Guilford County Department of Public Health, noted factors such as a lack of knowledge, cultural issues, access to healthy food choices and an increasing sedentary lifestyle as factors impacting the overall health of the community.

“What we’re doing is taking traditional dishes and exposing people to new ways of enjoying their favorite foods. This is taking services straight to the people,” said Green, who added that the mobile kitchen complements the county health department’s fruit and vegetable initiative.

The American Heart Association (AHA) and Guilford County Department of Public Health part-nered with The Blairton Hampton Family to create a community health initiative that delivers nutritious food directly to the people. The Hampton Family Mobile Kitchen travels around the city, puts on healthy cooking demonstrations and provides nutrition education for residents.

N’gai Dickerson, Hampton Family Mobile Kitchen chef and manager ,said he encourages people to make small changes at a time to their cooking habits.

Dr. Frank Gilliam, chancellor of UNC Greensboro, served as the event's keynote speaker. Photo by Yasmine Regester/Carolina Peacemaker
Classes began in January and for the next three years the Mobile Kitchen will provide healthy cooking demonstrations at large community events, with a goal to reach up to 3,000 Greensboro residents annually.

While cardiovascular disease and stroke are the leading causes of death for Americans, African Americans are two times more at risk for heart disease and stroke. African Americans also suffer from high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes at higher rates than other ethnicities, which increases the chances for heart disease.

Brent Hampton spoke on behalf of the Hampton family and talked about his father, Blairton S. Hampton, CEO and President of Century Products in Greensboro, who saw how underrepresented minorities were on local boards and how they were often left out of health conversations and research studies.

“We are excited about the Mobile Kitchen and to be able to bring healthy cooking classes to our community. My father believes in building and supporting our communities through access to nutritional education,” said Hampton.

Personally, Hampton revealed he had a health scare a few years ago when he was diagnosed with symptoms of heart disease at only 30 years old. He said he knew he had to start living a healthier lifestyle when his doctor wanted to put him on medication for high cholesterol.

“I was young, I didn’t think it mattered. I ate whatever,” said Hampton. I know what making better food choices can do for your health, so I encourage people to pass this information on and to make those changes to live a healthier and longer life.”

According to the 2016 Guilford County Community Health Assessment, residents of census tracts in low-income and low-educational attainment areas of the county have life expectancies as much as 18 years lower than residents of high income, high education areas.

“This is extremely important work in our community,” said UNCG Chancellor, Dr. Frank Gilliam, keynote speaker for the luncheon.

“We know that cardiovascular disease and issues associated with that are more prevalent in communities of color. UNCG is located in an area that is a food desert and has disproportionately high rates of health issues. Living in a food desert leads to poor health outcomes, so it’s critically important to change that,” he said.

The American Heart Association’s 2018 Annual Heart and Stroke Walk is on May 19, 8 a.m. at the University of North Carolina Greensboro. Visit: