News Items from UNC Greensboro

women at stand at farmers' market
A vendor at the Corner Market and Dr. Maryanne LeGreco

Every Saturday at 7:30 a.m. in a church parking lot in Sunset Hills, next to UNCG’s campus, farmers unpack their produce, alongside bakers, relish makers, and meat vendors. A similar group sets up on the other side of campus, in the Glenwood neighborhood, on Thursday evenings.

The two locations joined efforts four years ago to form the nonprofit Neighborhood Markets and launch the Green for Greens program, which allows Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – or SNAP – beneficiaries to shop at farmers markets by doubling their funds for fresh food.

The program not only expands who can shop at farmers markets and have access to fresh food, but also boosts the local economy by putting money into the hands of small farmers and entrepreneurs.

hand holding wooden tokens

In Glenwood, market manager Liz Seymour runs the cards and hands out the wooden tokens as co-manager Shante Woody leads the set-up. In Sunset Hills, the work falls to co-managers Kathy Newsom and Stephen Johnson, with assistance from UNCG’s Dr. Marianne LeGreco.

Food for thought

For more than a decade, LeGreco, who is an associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies has been one of the driving forces behind local food security initiatives, including urban garden projects, fresh food mobile markets, entrepreneurship programs, and culinary workshops.

In 2015, the Greensboro and High Point area was identified as the most food insecure area in the nation. As Green for Greens and similar initiatives were put into place, the area’s food insecurity ranking fell by eight percent.

“It’s hard to look at some of these things in isolation,” LeGreco says. Her 2021 book “Everybody Eats,” co-authored with Dr. Niesha Douglas, uses case studies in Greensboro to analyze the infrastructure of food justice. “When we’re thinking about food insecurity, it’s about building a stronger system. All of the pieces work together.”

fresh carrots

Food insecurity climbed again during the pandemic. The Neighborhood Markets responded by ensuring they were categorized as “essential businesses” that could remain open. UNCG students facilitated listening sessions with vendors and shoppers to identify changing needs, resulting in new options such as online ordering and drive-by pickups.

The scholars also gathered data, finding that the markets boosted financial security and provided community connections – during the pandemic and also during racial and political tensions brought up by instances of police brutality.

“It was a way that people could still gather, decompress, and talk about what was going on,” says Newsom. “In some ways it was a payoff for a vision, to be there at a time when the community needed that kind of connection.”

Words into Action

Read more about how UNCG Communications Studies faculty and students are putting to use the largest grant ever awarded by the National CommunicationsAssociation, through five diverse community projects in Greensboro.

Story by Susan Kirby-Smith, University Communications, in UNCG Research Magazine
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications

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