Poverty to be focus of food summit

·3 min read

Dec. 16—HIGH POINT — What poverty looks like and how it affects people in the community will be the focus of the Greater High Point Food Alliance's sixth Food Security Summit.

In collaboration with Resilience High Point, the summit is planned for Friday, Jan. 28, at The Loft at Congdon Yards.

Related neighborhood meetings are underway. Youth will be sharing their perspectives through recordings to be made over the next two weeks, according to Carl Vierling, who has served as executive director of the Greater High Point Food Alliance since it was created in 2015.

The alliance was formed in response to the High Point-Greensboro area ranking at or near the top of the nation for food insecurity. In 2014, the local area ranked second in the national Food Research and Action Center report. In 2015, the local area went to No. 1. The local area's latest FRAC ranking is No. 14.

The ongoing pandemic prevented a Food Security Summit last year, and the next one will be limited in attendance because of social distancing, Vierling said. Face masks will be required for attendees, who can register now through the website www.ghpfa.org.

"You really can't address food insecurity until you begin having honest conversations about poverty because food insecurity is the tip of the iceberg," Vierling said. "That's what is most easily seen. If you have poverty impacting food insecurity, then you need to talk about how poverty impacts education and housing and health, our seniors and our youth."

The keynote speaker will be Gene Nichol, who heads the N.C. Poverty Research Fund at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law. Nichol has written several books, including "The Faces of Poverty in North Carolina," and is considered a leading authority on poverty.

Other speakers include leaders of local nonprofits and City Manager Tasha Logan Ford, who will bring a perspective on how the city is addressing poverty.

"This is going to be a very jam-packed day with lots of speakers sharing information, but the best part of all is that there will be tabletop discussions with people who are going to be attending," Vierling said. "Every year we're building on what we're trying to do. We laid a foundation, now we're adding to that foundation."

Resilience High Point will facilitate a panel discussion toward the end of the summit with a goal of creating action items for the community to work on.

"We also want to bring together all these different groups," Vierling said. "We're all working in the same area at the same time, we're just working on different issues."

By bringing the groups together, the summit will provide a view of how the pieces fit.

"We're really about having a conversation," Vierling said. "We've taken action on a lot of stuff and we do a lot of programming, but really it is about bringing the community together and hearing what the community has to say."

The biggest issues, concerns and ideas gathered through neighborhood meetings will be shared.

"We've seen the impact of COVID-19 on our community," Vierling said. "We're dealing with the impact of poverty and COVID-19 truly impacted people in poverty. This will be a good time to bring people together."

For those who cannot attend in person, the event will also be livestreamed on the GHPFA's Facebook page.

cingram@hpenews.com — 336-888-3534 — @HPEcinde

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