Feeding the Needs: Growth Market

Feast Down East grows fresh food access

Food Jordyn Appel Hughes 1When it comes to filling plates, these area women are tackling the issues.

From increasing access to fresh produce to reducing food waste, here are some of the groups – and their leaders – tackling local food systems to make them more bountiful for all.

CIERRA WASHINGTON is striving to eliminate the food desert in Wilmington’s Northside. JORDYN APPEL-HUGHES is strengthening the region’s food infrastructure.  And MALLORY WEEKS is helping students learn how to turn waste into compost and conserve resources.

  • Breaking Bread: Click here to read more on the latest on the Northside Food Co-op effort.
  • Waste Not, Want Not: To learn more about elementary school teacher, Mallory Weeks, click here.
  • Growth Market: Read more on Feast Down East grows fresh food access below.

Food Jordyn 2

Feast Down East’s executive director JORDYN APPEL-HUGHES is a realist with a big dose of idealism. It’s a formula that has enabled her to put Feast Down East on steady footing and increase its programming.

Feast Down East works to grow Southeastern North Carolina’s local food system by supporting farmers, increasing access to fresh food, and enhancing food security.

“I wanted to create new, interdisciplinary programs to fulfill the needs of our community,” Appel-Hughes says.

While Feast Down East has long been known for its food hub in Burgaw, which provides a way for area farmers to get their crops to restaurants, grocers, and institutions, Appel-Hughes has expanded the organization’s reach.

For example, she led Feast Down East’s disaster relief efforts during Hurricane Florence. She and her staff delivered everything from hot meals to toiletries to families that didn’t have electricity for weeks.

“We tried to go where others weren’t because they didn’t know about the situation or couldn’t get there,” Appel-Hughes says.

That experience gave Appel-Hughes new insights into how extensive hunger and food insecurity is in the community. Flo, the organization’s refrigerated van, now makes rounds Monday-Friday for the Motive Mobile Food Market, giving people living in food deserts access to fresh, seasonal food grown by local farmers.

Appel-Hughes plans to add nine new sites for the mobile market in Brunswick and Pender counties as soon as the organization obtains another vehicle.

To further reduce food scarcity, Appel-Hughes partnered with FarmSHARE. Through this program, Feast Down East serves as a depot for food distribution. Using funds provided by the Carolina Food Stewardship Association, Feast Down East buys food from local farmers and gives it to regional organizations. They then distribute the food to the communities they serve.

Appel-Hughes has proven to be a savvy financial manager as well as a forward-thinking leader. While growing Feast Down East’s programming, she also grew its profits.

“Last year our sales for the mobile market increased 40 percent over the previous year, and sales for the food hub increased 30 percent,” she said. “Seeing that growth is so fulfilling.”

For Appel-Hughes, her work at Feast Down East is more than a job. It is her calling.

“I’ve felt honored to be part of this organization and to perform my current role,” Appel-Hughes says. “My journey is meaningful. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

To view more of photographer Daria Amato’s work, go to dariaphoto.com.

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Categories: Features