Good Bowls, a Chapel Hill-based initiative that provides healthy frozen meals to community members, will launch a new Pay-It-Forward campaign at the end of March.
Good Bowls launched the Pay-It-Forward program last summer to help the company deliver meals to food-insecure families and to help small restaurant businesses during the pandemic.
Programs run every two months. Community members can donate meals online, and Good Bowls works with a local restaurant to cook the meals. Once the meals are prepared by volunteers in the restaurants, they are frozen and distributed to families, grocery stores, schools and workplaces.
January’s round of Pay-It-Forward was the company’s largest yet – with more than 800 meals donated.
Alice Ammerman, a UNC nutrition professor and director of the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, founded Good Bowls as part of her company, Equiti Foods, in 2018. For years at Chapel Hill, she researched the social determinants of health and the impact of existing food equity systems – work that led her to create Good Bowls.
“Those most at risk for chronic diseases tend to be those who are most food insecure or have the least access to healthy foods,” Ammerman said.
In Orange County, between 2018 and 2019, 18,030 people out of a population of 141,812 experienced food insecurity, according to a county profile from Food Back of Central & Eastern North Carolina. That year, 15.5% of children under 18 were food insecure, according to the profile.
Tych Cowdin, executive director of Communities in Schools of Chatham County, oversees the distribution of meals to local families.
“We act as a liaison between the community and the people providing the resources, which in this case are Good Bowls,” Cowdin said.
Ammerman said the Good Bowls Pay-It-Forward program has provided more than 1,500 meals since its launch. Good Bowls recently became available at UNC, Elon, and Campbell University. Good Bowls also delivers to Hillsborough, Pittsboro, Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh.
After hosting tastings at the campuses they span, Ammerman said students were excited about the opportunity to access nutritious frozen meals, as well as supporting the local food economy in surrounding communities across the province. North Carolina.
On the UNC campus, Good Bowls is located at Rams Head Market. Good Bowls is also available at Weaver Street Market and Durham Co-op Market.
UNC sophomore Tajin Proctor said he’s glad Good Bowls is available on campus.
“It allows people who have tight schedules to cook their meals,” Proctor said. “Sometimes you don’t have time to spare during the day. It’s really good for students to have a healthy alternative so readily available.”
Howard Allen, co-owner and director of Faithfull Farms, has worked with food all his life. He noted that getting food from local sources ensures it is fresh and nutrient-dense.
“When we can source food locally, we’re more likely to understand where our food comes from, so there’s more integrity in food,” he said.
Ammerman said she hopes Good Bowls will help local farmers who are dealing with the effects of the pandemic and the commodification of food by building producer networks and sourcing ingredients from the region.
“The entire agricultural system is increasingly moving towards larger, more concentrated and more mechanized farms, but we recognize the environmental damage that comes with that,” she said.
Ultimately, Good Bowls aims to increase accessibility to affordable, healthy and tasty food. The organization uses flexible pricing that takes into account customer income.
“We can use foods that are normally wasted, like they don’t look pretty or are too much for a season, to avoid food waste,” Ammerman said. “Then we sell them at a higher price to people who can afford them and support the mission, so we can subsidize the price for low-income people.”
Chapel Hill residents can support Good Bowls by purchasing or give meals in line.
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