Regional Food Access and Hunger Relief Network
As part of the CFNRV’s Thrive initiative, we 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.
In 2017-2018, we hosted 7 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.
Look below to check out notes from our past sessions. A summary of these notes is also available in the 2019 NRV Food Access report, which presents the “State of Food Access in the NRV”. It provides an overview of the need, the challenges faced by food access organizations and their clients, priority recommendations to address the challenges identified and some innovative efforts underway to implement those recommendations.
Session 1: Sept. 29th, 2016 @ Plenty Farm and Foodbank
Focus: Opportunities to increase access to healthy food
Summary: Plenty provided a tour of their farm and food bank. 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.
Click here to see notes from Session 1.
Session Two: Nov. 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.
Read the notes from Session 2 here.
Check out the presentations from Session 2 here.
Session Three: Jan. 31st, 2017 @ Montgomery Government Center
Focus: The Development of a Regional Food Access Network and VT Campus Kitchen’s Strategic Plan Kickoff
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 discussed strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to feeding, education, and capacity building related to both the campus kitchen specifically and hunger relief agencies more broadly.
Read the complete notes from Session 3 here.
Session 4: March 08th, 2017 @ Blacksburg Interfaith Foodpantry
Focus: Determine what assets currently exist to support our work
Summary: The group toured the Blacksburg Interfaith Food Pantry and took part in an asset inventory to better understand what resources we have in the region that could be borrowed or rented and how we might collaborate to get additional resources needed to support our programs. The group also participated in a cooking demonstration that could be replicated with clients and were provided with healthy recipes and nutrition education curriculum.
Click here to see notes from session 4.
Session 5: May 31st, 2017 @ Radford
Focus: Building an NRV Food Access Network
Summary: The group learned about another Food Access Network, the Montgomery County Maryland Food Council from its director and gained insights from Dr. Robin Lemaire, an expert on networks who has been working with the Community Foundation on strengthening the NRV’s early childhood education network. The group also discuss our next steps as a food access network to pursue common goals and strengthen our relationships with one another.
Session 6: October 24th, 2017 @ Giles
Focus: Building an NRV Food Access Network
Summary: The group tour the Giles Christian Service Mission, hear about the Giles Community Garden’s recent outreach efforts, explored lessons learned by the Giles Community Health Center and their recent Feeding America Certification process and learned about “FOCUS”, a Giles countywide effort to take a more “focused”, efficient, accountable, and comprehensive delivery of services. The group also discussed
recent progress and next steps as a food access network.
Click here to see the presentation.
Session 7: April 25th, 2018 @ Montgomery Co. Govt. Center
Focus: Determine network purpose and leadership structure
Summary: The group discussed forming a leadership team for the NRV Food Access Network to support the next phase of work. The group discussed the network’s purpose, vision, and structure.
Click here to see notes from session 7.
Session 8: May 15th, 2018 @ NRV Health and Human Services, Cburg
Focus: Discuss bulk-purchasing, pricing, and food distribution challenges and needs
Summary: The group discussed the need for consistency and pricing of purchasing items in bulk and to explore opportunities to create an online exchange database/inventory of donated and gleaned food in the region to support and streamline food distribution.
Click here to see notes from session 8.
Session 9: July 10th, 2018 @ Montgomery County Government Center, Cburg
Focus: Refine network purpose and leadership structure and move action items forward
Summary: The group discussed the network’s purpose, vision, and structure and action items including the creation of an NRV Food Directory, participating in a demonstration of the Chow Match software to help streamline food recovery and distribution, and the process for sharing the results of the Food Access Network Survey.
Click here to see notes from session 9.
Session 10: September 18th, 2018 @ Montgomery County Government Center, Cburg
Focus: Review the Food Access Network Survey Results
Summary: Virginia Tech researchers shared the results of the Food Access Network Survey which shared participating organizations challenges, priorities, and current partnerships for information and resource sharing, food distribution, and program coordination. It also showed which organizations were most admired or considered most influential or critical to the network.
Click here to see notes from session 10.
Session 11: September 26th, 2018 @ Montgomery County Government Center, Cburg
Focus: Discuss the Food Access Network Survey Results
Summary: Virginia Tech researchers provided a quick review of the results of the Food Access Network Survey and then the group discussed the results, asked questions, and suggested potential next steps for creating three action groups focused on outreach and communications, transportation, and donations.
Click here to see notes from session 11.