Fresh produce raised by students right here in the Roanoke Chowan area will be available by next summer thanks to a grant opportunity. Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center (RCCHC) and its partners received a Creating New Economies Fund (CNEF) grant of $8,500 from The Conservation Fund's Resourceful Communities program. This grant will support the implementation of a Farm to School to Healthcare initiative within Hertford County. School gardens will be built utilizing sustainable gardening practices at area schools. Produce will then be sold at a pop-up market located at Ahoskie Comprehensive Care with a discount offered for low-income residents.
"It has been so amazing to see what we can do through strong partnerships across the county. We are also thrilled to have youth engaged in the process of developing this initiative" said Catherine Parker, Director for Hertford County Student Wellness Center. "This project has great potential to impact a variety of issues from obesity and food security to career preparation and social justice" said Parker. In April the partnership learned they also received funds from Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust (KBR) to implement an ADA Compliant Walking Trail connecting several of the gardens with the pop-up market. The KBR grant will be housed by Hertford County Cooperative Extension.
A main component of the project is engaging youth to help lead the project and learn agricultural and entrepreneurial skills. The work is the result of a diverse partnership between RCCHC, Hertford County Student Wellness Center, Hertford Health Access, Hertford County Public Schools, Roanoke Chowan Community College, Hertford County Cooperative Extension, CADA WIOA Youth@Work, Active Routes to Schools, and Partnerships to Improve Community Health (PICH).
Resourceful Communities awarded 41 grants totaling nearly $390,000 to support innovative "triple bottom line" projects. These efforts integrate community economic development, environmental stewardship and social justice. The program is funded with generous support from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, the Oak Foundation and the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. Dedicated to building local capacity, CNEF grants of up to $15,000 support a range of projects that include community trails and eco-tourism; mobile food markets; increasing low-income consumers' access to healthy food; "green collar" job training programs and more. Open to the program's 500+ network of community organizations, faith-based groups and rural towns, the small grants result in an average return of $12 for every $1 invested.
RCCHC, an FQHC since May 2005, provides comprehensive primary care and pediatric services with locations in Ahoskie and Murfreesboro (Hertford County), Colerain (Bertie County), and Creswell (Washington County) North Carolina. As a designated community health and migrant center, RCCHC's mission is to provide comprehensive care that reduces health disparities for the Roanoke Chowan area. The Hertford County Student Wellness Center which operates during the school year and allows students to seek behavioral health services without having to leave campus, reducing absenteeism and in turn keeping kids in the classroom giving them a greater chance to successfully complete curriculum requirements.