It’s not hard to see what makes High Point a great city. Local restaurants, businesses, organizations and families all contribute to the best and brightest of our community. But at High Point Discovered, we think one of the truest examples of greatness is how our city rallies together when faced with challenges. And the Greater High Point Food Alliance is doing just that.
In 2014, a conversation around the challenge of hunger in High Point began to rise. And this challenge was met by those willing to fight to see that no one in our community would go without. A group of community members from different walks of life came together to form what is now Greater High Point Food Alliance. What started as a committee to organize High Point’s first ever “Food Summit” — an event to begin a community conversation about addressing hunger needs in High Point — is now a full-fledged organization that has exceeded the yearly goals they set out to accomplish.
GHPFA has a three-fold mission: empower, unify, sustain. By empowering members of our community (that means all of us!) to speak up and get involved in solving the problem of hunger in our city, we become a unified group, pooling all of our efforts towards to create long term, sustainable solutions around food insecurity in our city.
We heard from Carl Vierling, the executive director of GHPFA, about this incredible organization that is truly changing our community for the better.
Q. Tell us about Greater High Point Food Alliance in about 10 words.
A. The GHPFA brings people and resources together to alleviate food insecurity.
Q. Why was it started and what was the vision?
A. The GHPFA was started in response to the High Point community learning that the Greensboro/High Point MSA was ranked number two in the nation in food hardship with the result of a large portion of the community being food insecure. The vision of the Greater High Point Food Alliance is to create just and sustainable food systems for greater High Point by fostering unity, developing responsibility, and empowering communities.
Q. What is one thing people would be interested to learn about Greater High Point Food Alliance?
A. The GHPFA is considered one of the most effective and unique food policy groups not only in North Carolina but across the nation.
Q. What are the highlights of operating your non-profit in High Point?
A. Every day we get to see people, nonprofit agencies, the faith community, local government, and the private sector coming together to solve food insecurity. It is exciting to see people working together, laying aside their own agendas. High Point is unique in how we collaborate together.
We have had two Youth Food Summits where we have brought together over 14 agencies to put on this Summit. This year we had 128 young people who participated. The Youth Food Summit allows us to learn what are the food insecurity issues facing kids and as importantly, we ask them how they would solve the problem. While they are with us, they learn about nutrition, gardening, exercise, cooking, and other fun activities. This has been one of our best programs because we use what we learn for other programs.
Q. What are the challenges of operating your non-profit in High Point?
A. The biggest challenge we face is there is never enough time or resources to do all that we want to do to make the community food secure.
Q. Why did you choose to begin this organization in High Point?
A. The GHPFA started because High Point is home and having hungry neighbors is not acceptable. The issue of food security needed to be addressed now as my friend Matt Thiel has said many times.
Q. How has High Point changed since you started Greater High Point Food Alliance?
A. Since the Food Alliance began, we have seen real progress being made around food insecurity. As importantly, there is a sense of hope and future for the city.
Q. How have the citizens and community of High Point supported you?
A. We have received so much support through people volunteering to serve in our various work teams. This is where all the work gets done. At the same time, we could not do what we do without the support of donors who believe in what we are doing. One final thing, the City of High Point has been very supportive of our efforts.
Q. Do you have a particular geographic or demographic focus?
A. Our focus in on the Greater High Point community which is Archdale, Trinity, Jamestown, and High Point. We follow the footprint of the United Way of Greater High Point and the High Point Community Foundation.
Q. If you had one piece of advice for someone just starting out in High Point, what would it be?
A. Take the time to talk with people in the community over coffee or a meal. This is the best way to truly learn the community.
Q. What are you excited about for High Point’s future?
A. I think High Point is in the midst of a transformation and I cannot wait to see what the city looks like in 10 years.
Q. How can the reader of High Point Discovered help Greater High Point Food Alliance? Any specific needs that our readers can provide?
A. The GHPFA is always looking for volunteers to partner with the different work teams and agencies in the community who are doing the work. Folks can go to www.ghpfa.org to learn more.
We encourage you to join in the fight around food insecurity, by visiting www.ghpfa.org. We cannot overemphasize how thankful we are to be in a community made up of individuals who genuinely care about seeing our city and citizens cared for. From all of us at HP Discovered we say thank you to those who work and volunteer at GHPFA.
To learn more or donate be sure to check out the Heroes Center website here.
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