Sugar Grove, NC- The Western Watauga Food Outreach (WWFO) project is celebrating 3 years of service with a community meal from 4:00-6:00pm on Thursday, March 15th at the Western Watauga Community Center, 1081 Old U.S. Highway 421 in Sugar Grove.
Believing that access to healthy food, along with a connected community, can transform people; the WWFO began distributing food boxes, offering tastings and serving community meals each Thursday in March of 2015 at the community center. WWFO is a collaboration between the Hunger and Health Coalition, Quiet Givers and Mabel and Henson’s Chapel. Additionally, financial support and generous grant funding from The Duke Endowment and the Women’s Fund of the Blue Ridge’s Heat and Hunger Initiative have sustainably funded this outreach project for the next 5 years.
Every Thursday, a meal is offered free-of-charge and prepared by local restaurants and churches, such as F.A.R.M Café, Over Yonder, Barbaritos, and High Country United Church of Christ. All are welcome and encouraged to enjoy the meal. WWFO also offers non-perishable food boxes to qualifying families and individuals through a partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC.
According to the 2017 Watauga County Community Health Report, nearly one in five (18.3 percent) of Watauga County households experience food insecurity as of 2015. This includes an estimated 9,550 people in the county. This number declined slightly from the 2013 measure of 19 percent.
3 out of 10 people in Watauga County who are food insecure do not qualify for food assistance programs.
According to the 2017 Map the Meal Gap, 32 percent of the food insecure households in Watauga County did not qualify for federal food assistance programs whose threshold is 200 percent of poverty, such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). This means that nearly 3 in 10 individuals in Watauga County who are food insecure do not qualify for SNAP and other food assistance programs.
The average meal in Watauga County costs $3.54, compared to the national average of $2.94. In 2015, Watauga County fell within the top 10 percentile of counties nationwide within food bank service areas that have the biggest gap between the maximum SNAP per meal benefit and average meal costs
The Western Watauga Food Outreach distribution model hopes to continue to make food resources more locally accessible in an effort to relieve problems of food insecurity in our area. For more information about WWFO efforts or to become involved, visit wwfood.org.