Reynolds Trust funds Healthy Communities Initiative

Published 7:36 pm Friday, December 2, 2016

The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust and MDC awarded a total of $225,242 to Beaufort County Community College to support healthy cooking classes, community gardens and extension of the Beau-Fitt program.

In addition, the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust awarded $175,242 to BCCC as part of its Healthy Communities Initiative, which aims to improve the health outcomes of the residents in Beaufort County.

The college recently constructed a culinary lab in the Continuing Education building that will house healthy cooking classes for area residents. Clay Carter, director of personal enrichment, is working with two chefs who will teach participants to prepare and cook healthy meals.

Bill Booth, the director of Alpha Life and Mother Earth Farm, will be hired through the grant to assist community groups, youth groups, schools and churches with starting community gardens. Booth has many years’ experience as a community organizer and will help groups coordinate activities and build gardens.

“This program brings the farm-to-table concept that has been successful in urban places to Beaufort County,” said BCCC grant writer Julie Crippen. “Community members will have a chance to get their hands in the dirt, learn about their food and eat better.”

While Beaufort County has a large agricultural sector, these large farms grow food to supply industrial operations. As farming has become increasingly mechanized, very few people know the tricks to growing vegetables. The availability of cheap and convenient, but nutritionally poor foods also means that many residents have an easier time accessing junk food than they do fresh produce.

With heart disease being the No. 1 killer of Beaufort County residents, this grant brings resources that will combat that trend. Based on a Beaufort County Health Department survey, residents are concerned about their health and want help learning how to eat healthier. They would like to know what to grow to eat. Gardens already in existence such as Ruby’s Garden at Asbury Church and Raised in the Barn Farm are partners in the effort and will continue to work with the college to offer more options to seniors and youth.

In a survey, both Cornerstone Family Worship and Word of Life Worship Center indicated an interest in starting a community garden program, but lacked the expertise needed to start. This grant offers any group like these who are ready to dig in for better health to obtain the help they need.

Community members can sign up for the cooking classes by calling Clay Carter at 252-940-6357. Any group interested in starting a community garden may contact Bill Booth at 252-940-6271.