Recent surveys show that two-thirds of students at Appalachian face issues with food security while one in five people in Watauga county are food insecure. Watauga county is considered the third poorest county in North Carolina. However, measures are being made by the community in order to alleviate some of these issues.
Appalachian State University’s food pantry first opened during the 2016-17 academic year, providing the Appalachian community with free food and other vital resources through its store, such as clothing. It is located at the Office of Sustainability on the ground floor of East Residence Hall. Because of the increased awareness of food insecurity on campus, the food pantry’s hours have been extended. The pantry is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Office of Sustainability also partners with outside organizations in order to maintain its upkeep and promote food security, specifically the Hunger and Health Coalition. The curriculum for nutrition and foods majors utilizes the Hunger and Health Coalition’s Recovery Kitchen Program by learning how to prepare nutritious meals and serve them to those who are food insecure. This collaboration has, according to the Hunger and Health Coalition’s website, helped to prepare and distribute 43,916 meals in 2017.
Awareness of food insecurity should be prioritized in order to further absolve these issues; however, there should also be an increased awareness for sustainable food consumption and the support of local farmers.
The university’s second annual community FEaST (Food Engagement and Storytelling) included hundreds of members of the Appalachian community who gathered at Sanford Mall on Oct. 16. The event was hosted by the AppalFRESH Collaborative and focused on the importance of promoting sustainable food economies.
The feast welcomed different groups and clubs such as the Sustainability and Environmental Education Club, English Honors Society, Appalachian Accountants, Public Health Club and others. These clubs hosted tables that highlighted the correlation between sustainability and eating locally.
The feast accepted various donations from local businesses, including Stick Boy Bread Co. Appalachian’s Food Services donated food and also collaborated with Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture (BRWIA). BRWIA supports local produce through their online market, where customers can shop for locally-grown produce and pick it up on Wednesdays. More information about the online market can be found here.
If interested in helping to absolve issues within food insecurity, volunteer options are available. App State offers different programs for students and members of the community alike on their website. The Hunger and Health Coalition also offers different ways to get involved in bettering the Watauga community.