The Long Term Hunger Relief (LTHR) Committee began meeting in early 2014 as a spin off of the Cabarrus County Farm and Food Council. Their mission: To plan and encourage long-term measures to reduce food insecurity in Cabarrus County and regularly report to the Cabarrus County Farm and Food Council.
The LTHR began in an informational stage to learn more about the current food relief systems in place including WIC and SNAP, as well as other local initiatives. Additionally through research, the committee identified various ways to improved coordination among the many agencies and churches providing food relief in Cabarrus County.
The committee’s focus has now matured to planning for long term solutions to food insecurity. At the heart of this discussion is a “Circle of Services” that broadens food relief efforts. Please note that this Circle is being proposed by the committee but is not, in most cases, currently available. The intent is to help more recipients of food relief become self-sufficient so that the services might no longer be needed. The “Circle” includes various types of assistance with food preparation, food shopping, and accessing nutritious foods. The Circle also includes a counseling component; assistance with accessing existing governmental food subsidies including SNAP, WIC, and School Food Programs; and employment and educational assistance. Additionally, the committee wants to broaden community outreach to serve those not currently reached through existing programs.
As one of the next steps, the committee believes that food insecurities and hunger need to be documented in Cabarrus County. In this regard, the committee is developing two ways of measuring community needs. The first is a questionnaire titled “Food Security Questions” to be filled out by people with food-related needs to document their degree of food insecurity. This questionnaire is based on the definition of food insecurities used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The second measure is a proposed Focus Group format that seeks the input of people with food-related needs by asking them to discuss the relevance of the Circle of Services. Each Focus Group will involve a volunteer to lead the group, a volunteer to record the results, and 5 to 7 community participants. Both measurements are currently being developed and pretested. Since the Cabarrus Farm and Food Council does not have resources to conduct its own community needs assessment, food relief agencies will be encouraged to use these measures in documenting food insecurities among their clients. Also, in a recent positive development, Healthy Cabarrus has already agreed to include an abbreviated version of the committee’s Food Security Questions in their Cabarrus County Community Needs Assessment to be conducted in 2016.
Members of the LTHR Committee
Jim Dudley, Coordinator and Cabarrus Farm and Food Council Member
Rev. Donald Anthony, Urban Farm Project
Joyce Berry-Biles, Volunteer, Cooperative Christian Ministry
Rita Dominguez, Latino Coordinator, Faith Community Health Ministry of the Carolinas Healthcare System
Aronda Dunlap-Elder, School Social Work Coordinator, Cabarrus School System
Maya Jones, Urban Farm Project and Cabarrus Farm and Food Council Member
Kathy M. Mowrer, Program Administrator, Adult and Aging Division, Cabarrus County DHS
Zenobia Nelson, Director, Operation Breadbasket, First Missionary Baptist Church in Concord
Anna C. Thadani, WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) Director, Cabarrus Health Alliance
Pastor Kevin Whidden, First Impression Community Outreach, Concord First Assembly
Mike Wojciechowski, Crisis Center Director, Cooperative Christian Ministry
Current Resource People:
Alicia McDaniel, REACH Grant of CHA
Jessica Montana, REACH Grant of CHA
Erika Green, MSW student at UNC Charlotte