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McDowell Commissioners declare support for Food Hub

McDowell Commissioners declare support for Food Hub

On Monday, the McDowell County Board of Commissioners formally declared their support for the Foothills Food Hub.

At the regular February meeting, the commissioners adopted a resolution of support for the building of the Food Hub.

The resolution reads: “Whereas, several years ago concerned residents of McDowell County gathered together to talk about important issues around food sourcing and security; and whereas, the McDowell Local Food Advisory Committee was formed as a 501©3 organization with a mission to connect, coordinate, and strengthen the local food system in McDowell County; and whereas, the Foothills Food Hub is a project of the McDowell Local Food Advisory Committee; and will address food insecurity, support a local food economy, and transform the food system and public health infrastructure of McDowell County; and whereas, the Foothills Food Hub facilities will include food pantry storage and packing; farm fresh produce wash line, cold storage and distribution; a teaching kitchen for cooking and other classes; and a commercial kitchen for meal preparation, value added processing and food entrepreneur development; and whereas, the Foothills Food Hub is currently serving as a distribution point for donated food for partner agencies located throughout the county. Now, therefore, be it resolved that the McDowell County Board of Commissioners do hereby express their support for efforts of the McDowell Local Food Advisory Committee in establishing the Foothills Food Hub.”

The commissioners unanimously approved the resolution with almost no discussion. The statement doesn’t contain anything about the county giving financial support. But before the vote was taken, Commissioner Lynn Greene said the board will ask the Food Hub organizers for more information about their finances as county officials work on the developing the next county budget for 2020-2021.

In a related matter, the commissioners talked about what to do with the equipment from the former Foothills Pilot Plant. This facility, which was owned by the county, was used by local and regional farmers to process chicken, turkey, ducks, rabbits and other small animals into meat that they could sell at stores or farmer’s markets. After the Pilot Plant shut down, there was quite a bit of equipment specific to that type of work left in the building, which is located next to the county’s Agricultural Center. County officials have previously talked about disposing of this equipment by either donation or sale.

“It is possible that some of the more generic equipment (tables, etc.) can be used by local non-profits,” said County Manager Ashley Wooten in a memo. “However, staff suggests that the larger equipment specific to the processing functioning be sold if at all possible, to an entity that can use it for its original purpose.”

Greene said the county should offer this equipment to the Food Hub. “We’ve had a request for help from the Food Hub,” he said. “I move we declare it as surplus and see if the Food Hub can use it first.”

Greene’s motion was approved unanimously by the board.

These actions come after Director Heather Edwards and local residents have asked the commissioners to financially support the Food Hub.

“We are grateful that the commissioners continue to recognize how important the Foothills Food Hub will be for the entire community,” said Edwards on Wednesday. “We are cautiously optimistic that this commitment to support the food hub will result in funding toward construction desperately needed to make this happen.”

When it is completed, the hub will be located within a 9,000-square-foot section at the new home for Nebo Crossing at 263 Barnes Road. Nebo Crossing is donating that space within its new location for the food hub. This is being done under a 15-year lease with the church.

For now, Edwards and her volunteers are temporarily using another space located elsewhere inside the Nebo Crossing building until the hub is completed.

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