Connecting You to Your Community

Regional Food Access and Hunger Relief Network

As part of the CFNRV's Thrive initiative, we've teamed up with Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech’s Family Nutrition Program, and the New River Health District to better understand and support the needs of community groups and businesses actively working to address hunger in the NRV. CFNRV’s goal is to identify the most effective ways to invest our time and grant dollars to support hunger relief efforts in the New River Valley.

Since fall 2016, our team has hosted three community conversations with three main objectives:
1) to provide a forum for sharing best practices and innovative approaches
2) to identify ways to expand access to healthy food
3) to explore common challenges and opportunities for collaboration among those working to relieve hunger in the New River Valley.

Check out the most recent version of our NRV Food Directory, which provides information on most of the organizations who support hunger relief efforts in the NRV. Please feel free to add/revise and save information to this online working document. 

Our team plans to host community conversations every 2-3 months throughout 2017, so please join us! See below for more information about our upcoming sessions and to check out notes from our past sessions.

Upcoming Sessions:

Asset Inventory: March 8th, 1-4 pm

At this meeting we will conduct an asset inventory to determine what (physical, human, social, political, financial, etc.) assets we have and what we need to better support our hunger relief work. We will also share information about available, but perhaps not widely known, resources that can support your individual hunger relief efforts. This session will also include a tour of the Blacksburg Interfaith Food pantry and a cooking demonstration along with recipes that can be replicated with your clients. Click here to learn more or to register to attend this session.

Food Safety Training: May 31st, (tentative date)

This food safety training workshop will be designed around the specific needs identified at the January 31st workshop.

Notes and Resources

Session One: September 29th, 2016 @ Plenty Farm and Foodbank

Focus: Opportunities to increase access to healthy food

Summary: Plenty provided a tour of their farm and foodbank. Presentations were also given by the Farmacy Garden in Christiansburg, the Giles Community Garden in Pearisburg, and Feeding America about their programs. Then, participants discussed the primary challenges to healthy food access in the communities they serve as well as major organizational challenges and/or successes. Participants identified the following primary challenges that they would like to address through a collective approach:

• Reducing waste of fresh produce in the community. 
• Cost and access to fresh produce
• Clients’ cultural perceptions or lack of knowledge on healthy eating
• Lack of understanding regarding client needs and how to access them
• Lack of resources (financial, physical, steady volunteers, etc.) to meet existing demand
• Negative stigma around assistance programs and perceptions on who is hungry

Read the complete notes from Session 1 here.

Check out the program presentations or resource presentations here.

Session Two: November 3rd, 2016 @ Micah’s Backpack

Focus: Opportunities to improve healthy food acquisition, distribution, and consumption

Summary: Micah’s Backpack provided an overview of their program and their keys to building successful community partnerships. Beans and Rice also provided an overview of how they track and demonstrate their program achievements. Then, participants discussed how to address some of the primary challenges identified in session one. Ideas identified with the most interest and energy included:

• Developing and expanding educational programs on nutrition and cooking fresh foods.
• Partnering with local producers/community gardens to get donated food and/or negotiate discounted bulk pricing.
• Creating a common list of resources in the NRV.
• Creating a food hub/distribution center in the NRV that will serve all organizations. (This was the idea with the most interest).
• Developing a ‘Hunger Relief’ Network

Read the complete notes from Session 2 here.

Check out the presentations from Session 2 here.

Session Three: January 31st, 2017 @ Montgomery County Government Center

Focus: The Development of a Regional Food Access Network and VT Campus Kitchen's Strategic Plan Kick off

Summary: The Campus Kitchen at Virginia Tech provided an overview of their program and sought feedback as part of their strategic planning process on their future direction. Participants also had a discussion about the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to feeding, education, and capacity building as it relates to both the campus kitchen specifically and hunger relief agencies more broadly. An overview of the NRV Food Access Directory was also provided.

Read the complete notes from Session 3 here.

For more information on the Regional Food Access Network or to join our contact list, contact Kim Thurlow at