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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Food benefits platform for local communities

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Wake County North Carolina
Wake County North Carolina
Wake County is located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of July 1, 2019, the population was 1,111,761, making it North Carolina's most populous county as well as the most populous county in the Carolinas. From July 2005 to July 2006, Wake County was the 9th fastest-growing county in the United States, with the town of Cary and the city of Raleigh being the 8th and 15th fastest-growing cities, respectively. Its county seat is Raleigh, which is also the state capital. Eleven other municipalities are in Wake County, the largest of which is Cary, the third largest city of the Research Triangle region and the seventh largest municipality in North Carolina.

Photo by Engin Akyurt from Pexels

The Food Benefits Platform is used to address food insecurity in local communities.

Food insecurity is at an all-time high, with one in eight Americans reporting some level of uncertainty about where their next meal will come from. In Wake County, 12% of the population is considered food insecure, including more than 37,000 children under the age of 18.

To help, Wake County Government, NC Cooperative Extension – Wake County Center and community partners have partnered with Tangelo , a national food benefits platform, to create, distribute and evaluate food benefits for members at risk. of the community.

In collaboration with Tangelo, Wake County specified eligibility criteria, designed food benefits, and enrolled community members on the Tangelo mobile app. Once on the app, residents completed a social risk exam and were then able to redeem their nutritious food benefits and receive fresh, culturally relevant food delivered to their door twice a month.

The county contracted with a local vendor, The Produce Box , to provide it with fresh, local produce, which Tangelo delivers right to its members’ doorstep, helping solve major household problems accessing nutritious food.

“Many of the participating households reside in food deserts – that is, places where fresh and affordable food is hard to find,” said Wake County Board of Commissioners Chairman Matt Calabria. “This new program will allow us to overcome food deserts, transportation barriers and other obstacles that have historically prevented people from accessing nutritious food. Healthy food will go directly to them.”

Five hundred households participate in this pilot program through February 2022, with options to continue. Families with limited transportation and food insecurity are eligible for the program.

Local community organizations have helped identify and enroll these families in the Tangelo mobile app. Among the partners are:

  • The Hispanic Center;
  • Pine Acres Community Center;
  • Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian Church;
  • Juniper Level Missionary Baptist Church;
  • Raleigh Dream Center;
  • Carolina Lutheran Services; and
  • Wake County Health and Human Services Child Welfare Division.

“We are delighted to be working with Wake County and its partners to successfully offer nutritious food while identifying dietary deficiencies and barriers within their communities,” said Jeremy Cooley, Tangelo Founder and CEO. “This is the first step in building a sustainable food future for Wake County, and we look forward to continuing our work here.”

The project helps support Wake County’s Comprehensive Food Safety Plan adopted in 2017, which aims to move the county toward food safety and a sustainable food future.

“The holidays can be stressful for everyone, especially the most vulnerable residents of our community,” said Courtney Tellefsen, CEO of The Produce Box. “This partnership is a natural extension of what we have been doing for 13 years throughout North Carolina and helps support our local farmers and deliver fresh fruits and vegetables to families in need until well into the new year.”


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