The National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA), the nation’s leading advocate for parks and recreation, is partnering with the Walmart Foundation to establish a program that increases the ability of local parks and recreation agencies to serve as Community Wellness Hubs.
With support from the Walmart Foundation, NRPA has received $2.5 million in grant funding to support 15 local park and recreation agencies and community-based organizations so they may serve as trusted gathering spaces, providing access to healthy, affordable food, and serve as leaders in reducing food insecurity.
Grow Appalachia, a strategic initiative of Berea College, has been selected to participate in the 2022-23 Wellness Hub cohort as a Mentor Participant. Over the next 18 months, Grow Appalachia will work with partners in Berea and Whitesburg, Kentucky to support the creation and continuation of Wellness Hubs located at community events.
Grow Appalachia partners include:
- The City of Berea/Berea Parks and Recreation
- Levitt AMP Whitesburg
- Levitt AMP Berea
- Whitesburg Farmers Market
- Berea Farmers Market
Wellness Hub activities will include:
- Supporting Farmers Market Kentucky Double Dollars for EBT/SNAP customers
- Providing Farmers Market Sprouts Tokens for youth to purchase from local farmers
- Serving locally-sourced meals free to youth ages 18 and under
- Funding Wellness Hub Coordinators at Farmers Market and Levitt AMP concert sites
- Incorporating food skills education at farmers markets and community events
- Mentoring new and emerging NRPA Wellness Hubs across the nation
About Grow Appalachia:
For the past 13 years, Grow Appalachia has been addressing food insecurity throughout central Appalachia through home and community garden initiatives, foodways, farming, and child nutrition programming. As a Strategic Initiative of Berea College, Grow Appalachia partners with organizations, communities, and families in Appalachia to create healthy, resilient, and economically-viable food systems.
Grow Appalachia is headquartered at Berea College in Berea. Grow Appalachia delivers four main strands of work to reduce food insecurity in the region, including a Garden Grant Program, which currently partners with 25 sites in five central Appalachian states. In 2022 alone, Grow Appalachia gardeners harvested over 674,000 pounds of organically-grown fruits and vegetables. Its USDA child nutrition program, Berea Kids Eat, served more than 1.6 million meals to local youth in 2021, and spent more than $75,000 in local farm purchases. Grow Appalachia also has a social enterprise that offers a variety of growing supplies and services to meet the needs of growers in the region, including high tunnel construction. This initiative also engages in Farmer Development by providing technical assistance to farmers, which includes direct and tailored conservation planning for eastern Kentucky farmers to support an organic transition, high tunnel conservation, and production planning. The team at Grow Appalachia also offers a Beginning Farmer Series, an educational series designed specifically for new and beginning Appalachian farmers. In 2022 alone, more than 140 farmers were impacted through the efforts of farmer development programming.
Learn more about Grow Appalachia’s programs and impact by visiting its website: https://growappalachia.berea.edu