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The Reality of Accessing Healthy Food in Buncombe County

Healthy eating habits have been shown to improve everything from physical health to brain chemistry. The food that we eat has a direct effect on how our body functions.

Did you know that eating a meat-heavy diet increases your risk of developing cancer or that dark leafy greens are the absolute best source of calcium? Eating well has also been known to boost immunity, resulting in less sick days taken. In short, a healthy diet is connected to a longer and healthier life.

In Buncombe County:

  • 1 out of 4 people are obese (meaning it is really hard for them to be physically active and stay healthy) Much like most of the nation, despite multiple efforts on multiple fronts, we have not been able to turn the obesity epidemic around in all age groups.

It is important to note that wide spread occurrence of obesity in our community is not a failure of individual will power to resist fats and sweets or exercise more. There is much more to it.

  • Over 14% of the people living in Buncombe County suffer from food insecurity, which is the inability to reliably access affordable, nutritious food.  This often means a poor diet of highly processed foods that are easily available and cheaper than fresh produce.

When kids primarily have foods and drinks full of sugar, fat, and sodium to eat – and healthy choices are not the easy choices, they are on a path to a lifetime of poor health.  We can do better in our community.  

In Buncombe County, agencies and individuals are working hard to get fresh, healthy food into more homes. There are also steps you can take to bring healthy food into your neighborhood and home.

  • If you have a child 5 and under, you may qualify for WIC (Women, Infants and Children)  which provides breastfeeding education and support, referrals for health care, and vouchers for healthy foods. Wait times are short and our highly qualified staff is eager to help families and babies to get the best start in life with healthy food. Free language assistance is available.
  • Check out the easy and healthy recipes and great food-related information found at

Buncombe County is piloting a Double Bucks program that allows SNAP recipients to double their SNAP dollars when purchasing produce at 2 participating retail markets.  If a SNAP recipient goes to a participating retail store and uses $25 in benefits, they would be able to purchase an additional $25 of local produce! This pilot should start in late April with plans to expand to additional markets in the Fall.

Buncombe County Pop Up Markets: These markets supply public housing communities with fresh foods to encourage diets full of fruits and vegetables. The Fresh Food Pop Ups distributed 415,567 pounds of food to various communities last year.

You can join the local Food Policy Council to turn your ideas regarding healthy food access into realities.