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Healthy Meals, Open Ears: Buncombe Engagement Markets Offer Resources, Community Dialogue

Buncombe County is at its best when we look after each other. That’s why our Community Engagement Markets offer free food, medical services, and other resources. For many in our community, no-cost healthy meals and information about County and partner services are a valuable lifeline.

In 2013, MANNA FoodBank and the County’s Community Engagement team forged a partnership to provide safe and nutritious food. As word spread about the markets’ amazing work, other partners came on board to help provide more peripheral support and resources. Today, the County works alongside organizations such as United Way, ABIPA, YWCA, SPARC, and ABCCM. Community Development Specialist Rasheeda McDaniels says the goal of this support network is to establish a safe place for people to get necessities and in return build lasting relationships with the community. “Our staff gets up every day and asks what they can do better in order to be better,” says McDaniels. “We are servant leaders and want to engage with our community on their terms.”

One example of meeting people in their space has been reaching out during the COVID-19 pandemic. “People have been in isolation for a long time, but our team was on the front lines making sure they continued to have access to our services and resources. We’re also always searching for homeless camps to make sure they get what they need to survive in these uncertain times,” explains McDaniels. Thanks to the markets, those in isolation and who often go unseen are given the opportunity to have access to healthy, fresh food and other household items. With all the work the Public Engagement team and the County’s partners have seen, McDaniels notes, “This is all a team effort. The County can’t do this alone.”

Moving forward, Community Engagement Markets plan to continue serving the community in the best way possible. Due to the evolving nature of the ongoing pandemic, we’re always adjusting protocols to prioritize safety. Community Development Specialist Leonard Jones is looking forward to when the markets get back to normal. “They create an environment where people can interact with each other and utilize other services like medical help from United Health and free books and activities for kids,” explains Jones.

As the markets continue to pivot to broader access and resources, please help us spread the word to anyone who might benefit from their services. We’re also always looking for volunteers and partner organizations. If you’d like to get involved you can sign up through United Way of Buncombe County or email Leonard Jones at Leonard.Jones@buncombecounty.org. Markets are held on various days and at more than 10 locations from Big Ivy Community Center to the Edington Center. This year, markets will expand to also serve Swannanoa/Black Mountain and South Buncombe. To view a complete schedule, click here.

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Updated Aug 06, 2021 03:36 PM
Published Jul 30, 2021 10:51 AM


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