North Carolina’s current food environment, particularly in the most vulnerable communities, is marked by an abundance of foods and beverages that are of poor nutrient quality: high in fat, sugar, and calories. This creates a direct impact on obesity and diet-related disease. To reduce the rates of obesity and diet-related disease in North Carolina, we strive to create easy access to healthy, local food for all North Carolinians. Fruits and vegetables are a central part of a healthy diet. A healthy diet not only decreases risk for numerous diseases, but it can also help to reduce the burden of diseases once they have been diagnosed. The CDC’s 2013 State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables reported that four out of 10 North Carolina high school students (44.5 percent) and adults (40.8 percent) eat fruit less than one time per day, as compared to the national rates of 36 percent and 37.7 percent. About four out of 10 NC high school students (39.6 percent) and two out of 10 NC adults (21.9 percent) eat vegetables less than one time per day.
Strategy: Healthy Food Systems
Our strategy is to work across systems in order to improve health, recognizing that the food system is dynamic and interconnected. In order for more North Carolinians to have access to healthy, local food, we have to focus on the systems that grow, distribute, market and process food while at the same time support efforts to increase consumer demand for that healthy, local food. Our strategy focuses on infrastructure (from a local level to statewide) including food production and aggregation, creating demand through institutions, a ready workforce and youth advocating for the right to good food. As a result of this strategy, we hope to see a sustainable food system that encourages local production and distribution and makes nutritious food available, accessible, and affordable to all.