The Roanoke Foodshed Network (RFN), formerly known as the Roanoke Regional Food System Partnership, is granting more than $18,000 to area nonprofits and schools to support food access work in the Roanoke region. The following organizations received funding:
- Virginia Cooperative Extension ? One Valley Inc.
- Feeding Southwest Virginia
- Highland Park Elementary School
- Lick Run Community Development Corporation
- Boys & Girls Clubs of Southwest Virginia
- Cave Spring Elementary School PTA
The funding was made possible by the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth’s (VFHY) Healthy Communities Action Teams (HCAT) grant. VFHY provides infrastructure support to build and sustain community collaboratives that drive long-term policy, systems, and environmental changes that prevent and reduce childhood obesity.
“We are grateful for this funding, which allows our youth to develop garden business plans, grow produce at community gardens, and sell their product to” the LEAP Mobile Market, said Chloe Johnson, youth employment coordinator at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southwest Virginia. “The business skills learned through this experience will be beneficial for a lifetime.”
“This funding to our kids feeding program will give children an opportunity to learn about fresh fruits and vegetables and select produce to take home to feed their families,” said Pamela Irvine, chief executive officer of Feeding Southwest Virginia. “We’re thankful to the Roanoke Foodshed Network for the support to help nourish children in the region.”
“We’re excited to implement a workforce development program with local teens to work with an urban farmer in Northwest Roanoke to learn about growing and preparing food for their community, from seed to table,” said Troy Wilson, Director/Treasurer of Lick Run Community Development Corporation. “We know these dollars will make an impact for the people who need it most.”
The Roanoke Foodshed Network began as a series of conversations among farmers, planners, and local food advocates, stretching back to 2014. In 2020, Local
Environmental Agriculture Project (LEAP) was awarded a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) planning grant that has enabled the creation of the RFN and the establishment of a wide-ranging suite of projects supported by this network. In 2022, the Healthy Food Access working group of the RFN assumed responsibility for the HCAT grant. LEAP serves as the fiscal agent for the HCAT grant, with support from Carilion Clinic, Feeding Southwest Virginia, and United Way.
The RFN was formed to build community and capacity between diverse partners working to address food systems change in the Roanoke region. The goals of this partnership are to collectively learn about and address the needs of sustainable farm development, local food distribution, equitable food access, as well as the potential of local food to nourish economic growth.
The Roanoke Foodshed Network is also hosting a series of virtual learning exchanges. The final exchange will take place on January 18th from 2-3pm ET. It’s entitled: Regenerative Food Production: Healthy Soil, Ecosystems, and Communities and features speakers Brent and Anna Wills of Bramble Hollow Farm, and Adam Taylor of the Catawba Sustainability Center. Register today at http://tinyurl.com/regenerativefood.
For more information or to speak with someone about the RFN or the awarded grants, contact Maureen McGonagle at [email protected].