Food Project

FOOD is designed to socially, physically, and economically feed community.

It is a place for fresh, simple and nourishing meals, community pride, shared public space, health education, workforce training and jobs, and economic benefits.

Located at 504 and 513 Green Street East in Wilson NC – two properties owned and managed by WCIA – there are 5,300 low income residents living within a one mile walkable radius.

Urban poverty is rooted in the chronic and long-standing legacy of segregation. People living in segregated areas is one of the biggest predictors of lifespan impacting the ability to elevate out of poverty, be educated, and live safely. Access to healthy food has always been about wealth, property ownership of high ground, and transportation. East Wilson NC is the center of the city’s African-American community and is divided from downtown by the historic and active railroad tracks. In many African-American neighborhoods, there is a lack of fresh food, which by some measures is by design; FOOD redesigns this paradigm to create a central place for physical, social, and emotional wellbeing. FOOD addresses health issues because people living in food deserts eat many of their meals at gas stations and fast-food restaurants. (The death rate from diabetes in a food desert is twice that of areas with grocery stores.)
Furthermore, it is often impossible to find foods that are culturally appropriate and meet dietary preferences. Although there may be access to blood screens for diabetes and heart disease, without fresh food there is no long-term remedy. FOOD regards this as a social issue because on average Caucasian neighborhoods have four times as many supermarkets as predominantly Black and Hispanic neighborhoods. FOOD recognizes this as an emotional issue because there is a psychic toll from food insecurity: 1 in 5 people have food insecurity and live without any healthy food options; in Wilson County, that jumps to more than 2 in 5 people. We need to empower residents with the ability to access community wellness across these variables.

FOOD fuses culture and context alleviates nutritional trauma
reinforces self- worth highlights cultural identity

FOOD is a community gathering and building place employing neighborhood residents, uniting local leaders in shared ownership, and celebrating community life. FOOD is dedicated to what it enables — not food systems per se. The project comprehensively integrates a walk-to-work
where job and apprenticeship skills are taught and experientially learned bypassing inadequate transportation; creates visual markers of place signaling the neighborhood’s history and culture to enhance civic pride, and is structured using financial workarounds where an hour of work is
exchanged for a free meal. FOOD also extends the significant history of WCIA by offering community services via a Benefit Bank staffed with career coaches, Federal benefits information, health screenings, nutritional classes, and financial counseling.