Oct. 14, 2014. Friday, Oct. 24 will be an evening filled with fun, food, friends and facts! The Watauga County Food Day Campaign is excited to partner with Hospitality House to create educational and entertaining events in the Watauga community for 2014 National Food Day. Hospitality House serves seven counties in northwestern North Carolina as a nonprofit crisis agency.
The focus of this year’s National Food Day is to raise awareness of food insecurity and the importance of nutrition education. The 2014 Watauga County Food Day Campaign is proud to bring Hospitality House into the spotlight to recognize their continual efforts to provide support and education on the local and sustainable food system. In 2013, Hospitality House’s Bread of Life Food and Nutrition Programs provided over 145,000 meals. They operate the only community kitchen in the High Country, providing 3-meals-a-day, 7-days-a-week, 365-days-a-year and are the only area food pantry open seven days a week.
Taking place at the Hospitality House Bread of Life Community Kitchen between 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. the National Food Day celebration, supported by High Country Local First, will consist of facility and garden tours, staff introductions and a free, 100 percent locally sourced meal, including vegetables from the Hospitality House Community Gardens.
Following the open house, Hospitality House and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) will be honored guests at the Tasty Tunes event held at Appalachian Mountain Brewery from 8 pm to midnight. The National Food Day inspired Sustain Appalachia Harvest Week will be partnering with the Appalachian Student Dietetic Association, Sustain Appalachia, and the National Food Day Campaign to host the event. There will be live music entertainment provided by four local bands that include, Demonbow, Space Canoe, Luke Mears Band, and Alexa Rose.
Allison Jennings, the Hospitality House Food and Nutrition Coordinator, will speak about the severity of mental illness and its relationship to food insecurity and malnutrition. Jennings will shed light on the daily efforts of Hospitality House to provide meals, shelter and resources to community members living in crisis, poverty and homelessness. According to the latest U.S. Census, Watauga County has a poverty rate of 29 percent – third highest in North Carolina and 14 percent higher than the national average. In fact, Watauga County has the third fastest growth rate in poverty in the state of North Carolina and according to the Second Harvest Food bank of Northwest NC “Hunger in America 2014” report; one in six people in northwestern NC seek food assistance. Watauga also boasts a median household income that is $16,000 below the living wage and one-in-three children from single parent households suffer from food insecurity.
Admission to the Tasty Tunes event is also free; however, a $4 donation is encouraged and will go to support the food and nutrition programs at Hospitality House. AMB will have the Farm 2 Flame food truck in operation during the event!
With their increasingly busy commercial kitchen, Hospitality House now conducts quarterly “Cooking Matters” classes, participates in the “No Kid Hungry” campaign, Boone’s “Meatless Mondays” initiative and offers commercial kitchen skills and food safety training. New this year, they added a Summer Feeding Program for kids and offered Chef Training courses, taught by local chefs, where participants graduated in “Certified Kitchen Readiness.”
The Hospitality House Community Garden project, consisting of 34 raised beds, two hoop houses, a mixed-berry patch and a small orchard of apple, pear and fig trees, just completed its third full growing season. The Community Garden Project, supported by Heifer International Seeds of Change Initiative and Nourishing NC, were created to increase access to fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs for the Bread of Life Food and Nutrition Programs. Residents and volunteers work together to prepare the gardens in spring and maintain them throughout the summer and into fall. The garden is grown using organic methods and is a key part of Hospitality House’s commitment to the sustainability of life, community and environment. The project also includes garden nutrition classes where items from the garden are harvested, discussed and prepared; weekly workshops on topics like composting, seeding, fall planting and lettuce boxes; and children’s gardening curriculum where kids are exposed to the experiences of planting, cultivating, harvesting and healthy eating.
For additional information about Sustain Appalachia Harvest Week, please visit http://sustain.appstate.edu/harvestweek.