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FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — For some of our neighbors, eating a healthy meal means sacrificing other necessities— things like medication, electricity or supplies for their children.

Those struggling with food insecurity are at a higher risk for diet-related diseases because they cannot afford or do not have access to nutritious foods.

A new initiative at Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina called Farm Fresh is working to connect local farms directly to food banks to get fresh produce to program participants.

“The number one requested food item by families seeking food assistance from Second Harvest’s partner agency network is fresh produce,” Second Harvest’s Nutrition Services Director Kina Charles said.

Pantries use the CDC screening survey to assess diabetes risk to determine who is eligible.

Once produce is harvested on the farm, it is taken to local partner agencies.

Organizations like Sunnyside Ministry in Winston-Salem include those fresh fruits and vegetables in the food boxes they distribute to clients.

Farm Fresh started in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic when many people were reaching out to their local food pantries for the first time.

In addition to a focus on helping minority farmers and communities, the initiative is also concerned with education.

Participants receive weekly text messages with evidence-based food facts, recipes, and advice for healthier eating.

“Some people noticed that the texts were about the only contact that they were having with the outside world. So meeting people where they are through this technology has been able to help people feel connected to others and cared for as well as help them stay on track with healthy behaviors,” Charles said.

Isaac Oliver is the owner of Harmony Ridge Farm in Tobaccoville, one of 17 farms in five counties now involved in Farm Fresh.

“Having the food being grown in the community or at least close to the community in which it is provided just makes for a much better system altogether,” Oliver said.

You can find more about Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina at