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We are first-year students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the Master of Public Health/Registered Dietitian Program. For our supervised practice experience in public health nutrition, we are interning for eight weeks for Carol Mitchell, the Local Food Coordinator at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Wake County Center (CES). In her position at Extension and as a member of the Board of Directors of both Advocates for Health in Action (AHA) and Capital Area Food Network (CAFN), Carol develops partnerships, policies and programs that support local food systems and healthy eating in Wake County.

During our summer internship, we are involved with several innovative local foods programs at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Wake County Center that have been generated through partnerships with other Wake County organizations. One of these is Farm It Forward (FIF), a series of six classes designed to give participants access to healthy local produce. FIF participants are families–one parent and one child (between the ages of 10 to 14)–who have been enrolled in the WakeMed Energize Program, for children who are at risk for type 2 diabetes. Each week, Ben Shields and Patricia Parker at In Good Heart Farm, provide fresh produce that we use in class to prepare healthy meals. Ben and Patricia also provide CSA produce to the families to use at home. To empower people to make healthy food choices to prevent chronic disease, FIF teaches families about the benefits of local produce and skills to prepare them.

man holding a flat of blueberries

In our third FIF class this Tuesday, we emphasized the importance of local food. By playing the “Food Traveling” game, participants learned how many more exchanges occur and how much more time and transportation are required to distribute produce they buy that is grown elsewhere when compared with locally grown produce. We also introduced the new produce of the week from In Good Heart Farm–cucumbers and blueberries. Parents and children continued to work on knife skills by cutting the CSA produce. Together we made a cucumber, blueberry salad, roasted beets and potatoes, and pasta primavera. We look forward to hearing about how participants used their CSA produce to make healthy recipes at home.

woman cutting vegetables women cooking

We’ll share more about our experiences with local food programming at N.C. Cooperative Extension. Wake County in the coming weeks.

Melissa Kate

Melissa and Kate