The North Carolina Council of Churches has partnered with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) Foundation to provide more than $90,000 in Healthy Eating Equipment grants to twenty places of worship in our state. These equipment grants will be used to increase access to healthy, local foods – for example, for the purchase of canning and cooking supplies, to expand church-sponsored community gardens, to provide storage for healthy foods at food pantries, and much more.
“The NC Council of Churches is a strong ally to empower North Carolinians to improve their overall health,” said Kathy Higgins, president of the BCBSNC Foundation. “These Healthy Eating Equipment grants are helping the Council bring access to healthy foods to congregations in North Carolina that have embraced health as part of their mission.”
Congregations affiliated with the North Carolina Council of Churches’ faith-based health initiative, Partners in Health and Wholeness, acknowledge that their bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. They also recognize the positive influence that places of worship can have on congregants’ behaviors and health outcomes by simply making the healthy choice, the easy choice – i.e., by serving healthier church meals, maintaining tobacco-free buildings, forming official health ministries, preaching on health as a faith issue, etc. To date, 240 congregations, representing more than 78,000 people of faith in NC, have put their faith into action by creating healthier practices, policies and environments through the Partners in Health and Wholeness Certification Program.
The 2013 Healthy Eating Equipment grants will help to advance the work of Partners in Health and Wholeness by making fresh fruits and vegetables readily available to congregants and other community members. For instance, Ward Street Mission United Methodist Church in Guilford County, a PHW Bronze-Certified Congregation, received an equipment grant to expand their community of gardens. Yes, that’s correct – their community of nearly 300 gardens, not just one garden. More specifically, Ward Street Mission – under the leadership of Rev. Anne Elmore and PHW Liaison Jeff Moran – is using grant funds to build raised bed gardens at community members’ homes as well as a teaching garden at their church.
A few ways other grants are being used:
- Old Zion Wesleyan Church Food Ministry in Columbus County will help increase access to quality, healthy food through a food pantry, community garden, and food preservation.
- Sacred Pathways in Robeson County will expand their food pantry for produce storage and increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables for needy families, children, and seniors in their community.
- St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in Forsyth County will improve the nutritional health of children in their child care center by serving fresh fruits and vegetables, including some from the community garden.
- Laurinburg Presbyterian Church in Scotland County will increase their community garden outreach by adding three scholarship plots, increasing sustainable garden production with new bee hives, and unifying diverse stakeholders through their youth service learning program.
The 20 faith-based grantees are:
- Church of God of Prophecy Bible Place – Anson County
- Greater St. Matthews – Anson County
- Pathway To Peace Ministries – Anson County
- Old Zion Wesleyan Church – Columbus County
- Mount Zion A.M.E. Zion Church – Cumberland County
- St. Anne’s Episcopal Church – Forsyth County
- United Metropolitan Baptist Church – Forsyth County
- Fairmont Park Baptist Church – Guilford County
- Prince of Peace Lutheran Church – Guilford County
- Shalom Community Christian Church Disciples of Christ – Guilford County
- St. James Baptist Church – Guilford County
- Starmount Presbyterian Church – Guilford County
- Ward Street Mission – Guilford County
- Faith Community Christian Center – Robeson County
- First Baptist Church – Robeson County
- Sacred Pathways Inc – Robeson County
- The Third Day Community Garden – First Baptist Church Mayodan – Rockingham County
- Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church – Scotland County
- Laurinburg Presbyterian Church – Scotland County
- Piney Grove Baptist Church – Surry County
Please join the Council in congratulating these congregations for their efforts!
-Willona Stallings, PHW Program Coordinator
Partners in Health and Wholeness is an initiative of the North Carolina Council of Churches. PHW aims to connect health as a faith issue. Please visit our website to sign your personal pledge to be healthier, and to find out about grant opportunities for places of worship in NC.