Nearly a quarter of children in Western North Carolina experience food insecurity. But with the help of MANNA FoodBank and its 250 partner organizations, many of those kids are provided with nutritious meals. During its meeting on Sept. 5, the Board of Commissioners honored the local nonprofit’s 40 years of service to Buncombe and 15 other western counties by declaring Tuesday, Sept. 5 as MANNA FoodBank Day. The proclamation reads in part: “MANNA provides a free Food Helpline as a source of information for neighbors seeking food resources, meal programs, and to receive assistance in applying for longer-term food benefits. MANNA makes weekend food accessible to the one in four children that will face food insecurity in Western North Carolina through the distribution of over 122,000 MANNA Packs for Kids in the last fiscal year alone.” You can read the entire proclamation here. Buncombe County has partnered with MANNA for over a decade to provide food at Community Engagement Markets. Click here for the schedule to access food and more at no cost.
Want to help MANNA? Buncombe County is holding a food drive from Sept. 25-Oct. 7 at all library branches and many public-facing buildings. Click here for more details.
Early Childhood Education Committee update
Buncombe County’s Early Childhood Education committee is a 15-member board that works with community partners and gathers public input to ultimately make policy and funding recommendations to the Board of Commissioners. The committee’s goals are to support early care and education with an emphasis on pre-kindergarten for kids from birth through kindergarten by:
- Increasing enrollment opportunities.
- Increasing the quality of early childhood education.
- Developing and diversifying the early childhood workforce.
- Enhancing the overall effectiveness of the County’s early childhood education system.
For the 22 early childhood projects funded by the County during fiscal year 2023 (July 1, 2022-June 30, 2023), 69% of all goals were met. Some highlights of that success include:
- 292 parents improved their education or income status.
- Seven classrooms received new technology.
- 17 people participated in the bilingual early childhood cooperative network.
Finally, work to expand pre-K options throughout the County is making progress with some notable goals such as:
- Four new private pre-K sites opened.
- 638 enrollment applications were submitted with 88% of applicants getting placed in their first choice.
- 10 classrooms will be participating in the ramp-up to pre-K program.
You can view the entire presentation here.
Fall respiratory virus preparation
As we get ready to head into the fall season later this month, it’s also time for the County to ramp up its efforts to help get people immunized for seasonal flu, COVID, and other respiratory viruses. The County provides tests, vaccines, and can provide treatment should you get sick. This is especially important as we’re seeing an uptick of COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths across the state and the country.
Here are some ways you can help keep yourself and your loved ones safe as we enter flu season:
- Stay up to date on your vaccinations. We expect FDA authorization and CDC recommendations later this month for the new booster.
- Get your yearly flu vaccine in September or October.
- If you are 60 years or older, talk to your doctor about whether the new RSV vaccine is recommended for you.
- Parents can also talk with their medical provider about a new monoclonal antibody for infants to protect against RSV.
- Have a supply of COVID tests, which you can get for free at the County’s HHS building located at 40 Coxe Ave.
- If you test positive for COVID, please isolate yourself and follow all CDC guidelines.
- Follow the basic prevention measures of washing your hands, covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, clean surfaces often, and stay home if you’re sick.
You can learn more about vaccinations and testing for respiratory viruses here.
Commissioners approved a carryforward amendment for a number of items. This is due to purchases, services obligated, and economic development incentive disbursements made in fiscal year 2023 that were unable to be completed by June 30, 2023.
The total amounts to be carried forward by fund are as follows:
- General Fund = $4,947,181
- 911 Special Revenue Fund = $82,256
- Tax Reappraisal Fund = $54,388
- Mountain Mobility Special Revenue Fund = $234,867
- Solid Waste Enterprise Fund = $136,763
Additionally, of the funds carried forward from the General Fund, $523,633 will be transferred to multiyear funds as follows:
- $187,211 to the Special Projects fund for Early Childhood Education
- $336,422 to the Grants fund for multi-year use of Adoption Promotion dollars.
You can view the budget ordinance here.