The Healthy Food Access Mapping (Healthy FAM) project, a regional effort to improve understanding and access to fresh locally grown food, is inviting all residents to participate in virtual Community Engagement Sessions in March.

All residents of Edgecombe, Halifax, Nash, Northampton and Wilson counties interested in increasing access to healthy, local food in their communities are encouraged to participate.

Over the past year, UCPCOG and numerous partner organizations have been developing an interactive map of where the region’s food is grown, prepared, distributed and sold. A draft version of this map will be presented during the community sessions and participants can comment and ask questions about the map and share their views on how the region can ensure that all communities have access to healthy, local foods.

“Through this project, we’re learning a lot about our region’s local food system, but we need a better understanding of the food access challenges we face in our region’s communities” said Ron Townley, director of planning and development services for the UCPCOG Region. “These engagement sessions are a chance to listen to local residents about the food needs they’re facing.”

Each Community Engagement Session will be co-hosted by local Community Health Champions — community leaders from each county leading Healthy FAM outreach efforts. The meetings will also spotlight community food success stories.

“In order for Healthy FAM to be successful, it needs to reflect community needs and values,” said Chester Williams, CEO of A Better Chance/A Better Community and one of the Healthy FAM Community Engagement facilitators. “That’s why we’re holding these engagement sessions — we want to hear from all interested community members so partners can work to make changes.”

The virtual engagement sessions are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. March 18 for Edgecombe County and 6 p.m. March 23 for Nash County.

Each session will be held on Zoom, and advance registration is required. Registration links for each session are available on the UCPCOG Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ucpcog/ or by contacting Williams at [email protected]

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