About a decade ago the term “food insecurity” became popular in Guilford County – referring to the fact that some areas of the county have little to no access to affordable, healthy food, and the county began addressing that problem through various efforts.

Those programs were ramped up during the pandemic – and the effort to battle food insecurity in Guilford County is now getting a $150,000 shot in the arm from the Weaver Foundation.

Last year, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners gave its approval to use federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) money to fund a program for the Guilford County Cooperative Extension “to ensure that there were others in the community who would come to the table to support food security work throughout the county.”

Federal money is currently serving the purpose, however, that funding will end by 2026 and the county is seeking alternative funds to keep the program intact.

This $150,000 from the Weaver Foundation is the beginning of the fruits of those efforts. Cooperative Extension staff are currently seeking other community partners that will support the county’s food security work.

The only restriction on the funding from the Weaver Foundation is that it is to be used for food security efforts. There’s no specified date by which the Weaver Foundation money needs to be spent.

According to information recently presented to the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, the Cooperative Extension is making solid progress in its efforts to battle food insecurity across the county.

“The department hired a Food Security Coordinator, and that staff member is working alongside the County Extension Director to develop the food security program,” that information reads. “The primary goals of the program are to (1) build opportunities for increased collaboration amongst new and existing community partners; (2) develop a system for sharing data to allow both the county and community partners to make data-driven decisions; and (3) to develop a food security plan for Guilford County…. Measurable progress in food security work to date includes hiring the Food Security Coordinator, posting the Food Security Program Assistant position, and approval of an AmeriCorps VISTA program.”

The Cooperative Extension has also implemented a grant-writing training program for 16 food security partners and is now working with the county’s MWBE Department as well as others to connect minority farmers with area churches – a plan meant to create both new markets and economic opportunities for local farmers.

One county partner – the Greater High Point Food Alliance – has expanded its food-finder application from being a High Point-focused app to being one that’s now county-wide.

The Cooperative Extension has also joined with FuseCorps – a non-profit that partners with local governments and communities to “accelerate systems change and reduce racial disparities.”

Community meetings are planned for later this year as the Cooperative Extension begins to beef up its food security efforts to address current gaps in the county’s programs.