KINGSPORT — Regional nonprofit Appalachian Sustainable Development was the recipient recently of a $50,000 grant from the Newman’s Own Foundation that will help the organization carry out its goal of increasing access to fresh foods in the region.
The Newman’s Own Foundation is an independent nonprofit organization that was established by the late actor and philanthropist, Paul Newman. The money awarded by the foundation will be used to focus on improving access in Lee, Buchanan and Dickenson counties in Southwest Virginia.
ASD Executive Director Kathlyn Terry said the funding will assist her organization in implementing strategies that increase the consumption of fresh, healthy foods in areas known as “food deserts.”
To qualify as a “food desert” — or “low-access community” — under the U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, a rural locality must have a minimum of 500 people with at least 33 percent of its population living more than 10 miles from a supermarket or large grocery store.
In order to meet its goal, Terry said ASD must first provide those in need with fresh, healthy food before adding more options.
“We must provide people in need with food now,” Terry said. “However, we must also come up with strategies that are longer lasting and are sustainable and offer opportunities.
“We have seen firsthand that teaching those in need how to grow their own food provides a sense of empowerment far beyond nutrition education or the growing of food. It is a social, physical and mental game-changer which can allow members of the community to engage and become self-sufficient.”
Terry said the ASD initiative will teach people how to grow, preserve and market their own food while providing them with the tools, skills and support to make that possible.
Beginning next month, Terry said ASD will partner with local foundations for additional funding, as well as with corporate partners, extension agents, civic organizations, churches, schools and families.
“We believe in collaborations and we see in our work that collaborations bring about success and solutions,” Terry said. “We’re always looking for partners to increase the impact of our work. Our tag line says: ‘We’re all working to “live better … Locally,”’ and that’s what communities are all about.”