HEALTh and Voices into Action seek to support farmers and food pantries

Aug. 25, 2013 @ 04:59 AM

A group of community members is working to connect Lee County farmers to local organizations, markets and food pantries. 

The Lee HEALTh Taskforce, a sub-committee of Lee CAN, is a group of community members and organizations that are working to improve access to healthy, affordable food and places to be active in the area. In workshops and interviews conducted last year, families in Lee County emphasized the importance of local farmers and food pantries in keeping people healthy.

“In working with the Lee HEALTh Taskforce to accomplish the Community Transformation Grant’s five-year goal of increasing resident access to healthy eating opportunities, it was a no-brainer to extend the work to our local food pantries. By increasing the availability of locally grown foods in our community, especially in our local food pantries, everybody wins,” said Kelley Richardson, CTG Healthy Eating and Active Living Coordinator — Region 6. 

To determine how they can best support food pantries, volunteers from Lee HEALTh have been meeting with pantry directors to learn more about how they operate and about the successes and challenges they face on a daily basis. “It has been inspirational to see the good work that individuals and communities are doing and the creativity and dedication of many volunteers to support local families. We are looking forward to helping connect these organizations with additional resources or support moving forward,” says Dr. Annie Hardison-Moody, Project Manager with Voices into Action.

Renee Hein, Voices into Action mentor, and Kelley Richardson, Healthy Eating/Active Living Coordinator for Region 6 of the Community Transformation Grant project at the Lee County Health Department, are working with Voices into Action to conduct interviews with local farmers. The main goal of the interviews is to help farmers learn about resources for utilizing excess produce, and connect with new communities and partners. 

Hein, the Voices Into Action Farm and Garden Mentor for Lee County, is on the advisory board for the Peace and Unity Community Garden, Sanford’s fastest growing community garden project located in the Hudson Avenue Cul-de-sac. She is a long-time resident of Lee County.

Hein, Richardson and other members of Lee HEALTh will be conducting interviews with local farmers starting in August of this year and continuing throughout the fall and winter. Food pantry interviews are already under way with food pantry directors in Lee County. Farmers or food pantry directors interested in learning more about this project can contact Renee Hein at or (919) 258-3434 to set up a meeting time. 

For more information about Lee HEALTh, contact Kelley Richardson at (919) 718-4640 ext. 5356. For more information about Voices into Action, contact Annie Hardison-Moody ( or (919) 515-8478).