DAVIDSON COUNTY — An overview on the status of food insecurity in the Piedmont Triad provided a glimpse of the challenges faced by members of area communities in finding sources of nourishment.

The Davidson County Board of Commissioners received an update on a recent regional food system assessment by the Piedmont Triad Regional Food Council for the 12 counties in the Triad. Jennifer Bedrosian, PTRFC food systems coordinator, offered an in-depth look at what numerical data reveals about segments of the population her organization seeks to target for assistance.

Communities of color are at least twice as likely to live in poverty as white communities with per capita income between $20,000 and $29,000, Bedrosian noted. According to Rachel Zimmer, a faculty member at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center who serves as chair of the PTRFC, her research yields the same disheartening results.

“Economy follows race in this country, unfortunately, due to a lot of mapping issues that have happened in the past,” Zimmer said.

Locally, food insecurity rates are projected to increase by 1.5-3% this year. Childhood food insecurity rates project to be about 8% higher, climbing from 28-34% in 2020.

Commissioner Steve Shell appeared displeased that data points were offered for racial demographics, as opposed to socioeconomic ones. Impoverished white communities, he argued, face similar issues in securing necessary resources and are not prioritized by those offering assistance.

“Most of your food banks are in urban areas,” Shell said. “I don’t think we need to be talking about race. I think we need to be talking about economic status. It’s a cultural issue; it’s not a race issue. You’ve got a lot of poor white communities. Those should be the two being compared in an overall analysis.”

Several highlights were mentioned in contrast to the disparities in local communities. A pivotal advantage Davidson County enjoys, Bedrosian said, is its partnerships. Thomasville Farmers Market, Davidson-Davie and food council members were all mentioned as helpful players in the mission to alleviate food insecurity issues.

“Locally, in Davidson County, you all are fortunate to have a local food policy council here that is working on some of these things,” Bedrosian said. “They are leveraging their community gardens, especially in Thomasville, as a way to build skills and provide space for workshops with cooperative extension. They are also currently working with Davidson-Davie Community College to support their sustainable ag program and build distribution pathways for future farmers.

“The Lexington and Thomasville farmers markets are working together to provide a winter’s farmers market so that residents have access to local produce year-round. Grace Kanoy and the local food council members are great resources.”

Randolph County Commissioner David Allen, also a PTRFC member, provided a breakdown of food production in the area surrounding Davidson County. Davidson ranks sixth of 12 counties in the Triad in acres operated in 2017. Randolph operates the second-most acreage in the Triad and tops the list in cattle production. A total of 67% of the food consumed in the Triad is imported from outside the region.

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at kennedy@tvilletimes.com.

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at kennedy@tvilletimes.com.