N.C. A&T to Kick Off Fresh & Local Nutrition Incentive Program on April 15

By Jackie Torok / 04/13/2023

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (April 13, 2023) – The Fresh & Local Nutrition Incentive Program – a pilot project led by a multidisciplinary team at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University – will kick off Saturday, April 15, with an event to provide half-priced Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box options to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants.

The event will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 112 N. Benbow Road, in the parking lot adjacent to the Alvin V. Blount Jr. Student Health Center on campus.

Participants will also have the opportunity to meet Kate and Nate, the MyPlate mascots, and see how a blender bike works. Not only will this be a fun and interactive experience, it also will educate and inspire participants to make healthier food and beverage choices.

“Increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables is crucial in reducing chronic diseases, and this program provides a unique opportunity for families to not only access fresh and nutritious produce but also make it a fun and engaging experience for the whole family. Additionally, families can enroll in nutrition education classes to learn more about the benefits of eating balanced meals,” said Shewana Hairston McSwain, coordinator of the SNAP-Ed and Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) with Cooperative Extension at N.C. A&T.

Sandhills AGInnovation Center based in Ellerbe, North Carolina, is serving as the Fresh & Local Nutrition Incentive Program’s retail partner to make CSA boxes available weekly to SNAP participants. Each box includes a variety of in-season fruits and vegetables grown by local farmers.

Community partners also include Mustard Seed Community Health, Guilford County Department of Health, North Carolina African Services Coalition and St. Phillips AME Zion Church.

This pilot project, under the auspices of the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program’s Produce Prescription and Nutrition Incentive, received a one-year $98,948 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture that allows SNAP participants to purchase the CSA boxes at half the cost. This allows CSA boxes valued at $30 and $20 apiece available at $15 and $20 apiece, respectively, for purchase with SNAP benefits.

About 78,000 people receive SNAP benefits in Guilford County. Additionally, the compounding effects of poverty and accessibility to food, particularly healthy food choices, impact many of these people and their families.

The Fresh & Local Nutrition Incentive Program is designed to decrease food insecurity and increase fruit and vegetable consumption among SNAP recipients in East Greensboro and Guilford County, North Carolina. Its specific goals are to:

  • Recruit, retain, and engage 300 to 400 SNAP recipients residing in eastern Greensboro through partnerships with community-based organizations;
  • Provide weekly deliveries of CSA boxes containing locally sourced, fresh vegetables and fruits to participants via a partnership with Sandhills AGInnovation Center by offering matching nutrition incentives;
  • Increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables from participants in a partnership with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) at NC A&T Cooperative Extension with nutrition classes and cooking demonstrations; and
  • Generate knowledge on implementation, participant retention and engagement, community outreach, and community impact of nutrition incentive programs.

“Our project goals are consistent with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s strategic goal to increase food security through assistance and access to nutritious and affordable food,” said Rosalind Dale, Ed.D., vice provost for engagement and outreach, who serves as principal investigator for the project. “The research project will help us to better understand the effectiveness of incentivizing the purchase of fresh produce while also helping families stretch their limited food dollars.”

A multidisciplinary team at N.C. A&T led by Dale created the project with McSwain; Yolanda Nicholson, DNP, with Student Health Services; Raymond Samuel, M.D., Ph.D., professor of biology in the College of Science and Technology; and Yudan C. Wang, Ph.D., associate professor of counseling and senior researcher in the College of Education.

To learn more or to sign up for the program, contact Catherine Cedeno at freshandlocal@ncat.edu or 336-285-4673.

Media Contact Information: jtorok@ncat.edu

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