H.O.P.E. of Winston-Salem works at the intersection of children’s health and food insecurity with the vision of improving health outcomes and empowering individuals to lead healthier lives. We do this through three strategic initiatives:
- Direct distribution of nutritious food supplies to children and families
This initiative is embodied in our Help Our People Eat Program. This is a mobile distribution of nutritious meals for children and fresh fruits and vegetables for their families. Our mobile distributions take place on Saturdays and Sundays, when school is not in session and breakfast/lunch programs are not available. They are done with our small, but mighty, fleet of HOPE vehicles and LOTS of volunteer support. We visit apartment complexes, churches, community centers and Title 1 schools that are located primarily in East Winston and the Boston-Thurmond neighborhood.
We currently distribute over 1,000 meals and over 2,500 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables via 30 distribution points and partners each weekend. The meals consist of a sandwich/entrée, fruit, a healthy baked treat and either milk or bottled water. The produce is distributed in pre-packed bags of 5-6 items and in bulk, where individuals select items of their choosing.
- Food and Health Education
This initiative is focused more on knowledge and empowerment in comparison to our distribution of food supplies on the weekends. We feel strongly that understanding the benefits of a healthy diet and having the know-how, resources and skills to make nutritious decisions with meals and snacks will make a huge impact on the future health outcomes of those we serve. Especially when we get the kids involved!
This initiative comes to life on Tuesdays with our Kids Cooking Classes. These are small classes designed for up to 5 families with 1-2 children and are taught by local chefs and culinary professionals. From lettuce wraps to gumbo, the variety of flavors and ingredients we are able to introduce to young children is simply amazing!
We would like to give a special shout out to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church for providing seed funding for the pilot of the Kids Cooking Class program, as well as The Crabtree Foundation and Food Lion Feeds for funding the inaugural year of this program.
- Engagement with the local food ecosystem
This initiative is focused more on our sourcing strategy, specifically for fresh fruits and vegetables. We are determined to engage directly with farmers, community gardens, school gardens and other growing operations within Forsyth County and neighboring counties. This allows us to think and act beyond grocery store leftovers and food that has traveled thousands of miles before being received. It also allows us to look past traditional donations as we seek out purchasing capabilities to support our local food ecosystem. We are also very keen on promotion and support for urban farmers within Winston-Salem.
This initiative plays out in a few different ways. First is our Neighborhood Produce Market, which is hosted on Tuesdays at our operations facility in the Boston-Thurmond neighborhood. This market purchases from both a local wholesaler and directly from small/mid-sized growers in Forsyth County. We are able to pass along low costs to our customers, who have the option to pay with cash, card and SNAP/EBT benefits. This program provides a direct access point to fresh fruits and vegetables in a neighborhood void of such resources, and acts as a market opportunity for small/mid-sized growers to sell into throughout the year.
Another project that allows us the opportunity to engage directly with the local food ecosystem is our Summer CSA Program with Harmony Ridge Farms. Over the last two summers, we have been able to connect, due to generous contributions, on CSA boxes that have been redistributed to families we serve on the weekends. This provides revenue for the farm partner and local, farm-fresh produce to families that lack the access and resources to secure these food items on their own.
We are always evaluating our operations and programs offered to those in need. Our work is constantly evolving to best meet the challenges faced by so many children and families struggling with food insecurity and related health issues. Do not hesitate to connect with us on ways to partner on our strategic initiatives.