Whitesburg KY

Appal-TREE works to make local foods more accessible

Appal-TREE (Appalachians Together Restoring the Eating Environment) is a joint communityuniversity research and demonstration project to increase access to healthy foods in eastern Kentucky. The Appal-TREE project is located in Whitesburg and will primarily be focusing on Letcher County, with the intent that success in Letcher County could serve as a model for eastern Kentucky.

This National Institutes of Health research project awarded to the University of Kentucky in partnership with Community Farm Alliance, will spend the first year working with community residents and organizations to conduct a community needs assessment and assets inventory and collecting information on community priorities and ideas about ways to increase access to healthy foods in the area.

In addition to its partnership with Community Farm Alliance, the Appal- TREE project is partnering with other existing community organizations such as Grow Appalachia at Cowan Community Center and the Letcher County Extension Office.

Appal-TREE has piloted a year-long film series around agriculture and food. So far, four films have been shown including Food, Inc., Fresh!, Ingredients, and Wings of Life.

For the past eight months, Appal-TREE’s Program Director Valerie Horn and Hilary Neff, community outreach, have been working toward making local foods more accessible in Whitesburg. Horn worked with the Letcher County Health Department so that WIC vouchers can now be accepted at the Letcher County Farmers Market, and SNAP benefi ts will soon be accepted soon. WIC vouchers for the Farmers Market are available at the Letcher County Health Department. Community Farm Alliance also offers the Double Dollars program, which will double SNAP and WIC purchases at the Farmers Market.

Appal-TREE, in partnership with Grow Appalachia and the University of Kentucky has also kicked off Monday Market Meals, which is a three-part cooking class series at Cowan Community Center. The next class, Alternatives to Frying, will be on Monday, July 28, at 6 p.m. with What’s Cookin’ Now radio show host Jenny Williams.

The Appal-TREE project is designed to be a community-driven effort. Meetings will take place on Monday, July 21, at noon and 6 p.m. at the Letcher County Extension Office to determine the next steps and areas of focus for the Appal-TREE project. During this meeting, technology will allow the audience to vote on ideas for promoting healthy food/ nutrition and agriculture in the area. A locally sourced light lunch and dinner will be served at the sessions.

Follow and like the Appal TREE Project on Facebook. Call Valerie Horn at ( 606) 634-9468 for more information.

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