Started in 2016 with support from the Community Foundation of the New River Valley, Thrive: The NRV’s Food Access Network works to expand access to healthy food in the NRV. Over 90 organizations play a direct or indirect role in providing food access, and the initiative has evolved from a series of conversations in 2016 to a formal Food Access Network with a leadership team overseeing progress on a data-informed set of priorities.

In late 2019, Thrive created the The NRV Food Assistance Directory 2019-2020, providing a comprehensive overview of available food assistance programs and services in the NRV. Food security remains a serious challenge in our region, with 10% of families and one in five children in the NRV experiencing hunger or food hardship. The directory was a major collaborative effort to centrally identify and document resources that had previously been decentralized across individual websites, flyers, locations, etc., by the Thrive Information Sharing Working Group. The process of creating the directory itself helped to build relationships and connect working group members and food access advocates and organizations across the region that had previously not been connected.

In addition to the directory, the working group developed The NRV Food Access Report with data on the extent of food insecurity in the region, barriers to food access for both individuals and hunger relief organizations, and stories of innovative programs and partnerships in the region.

The directory and report will benefit both social service providers and individuals seeking resources. Executive Director of the CFNRV, Jessica Wirgau, said, “The dual outcomes of producing more collaboration among food access providers and raising awareness about their services and offerings in a central, easy to access location is a huge win for the NRV. I hope community members and social service providers will use the directory to visit the many organizations already serving our area, and use the data and stories shared in the report to support and inspire further efforts to address food insecurity in our community.

The directory, report, and more information about Thrive can be found on the CFNRV’s website. If you would like to make a donation to support Thrive, give to The Fund for the NRV at Community Foundation at: https://cfnrv.org/giving/give-now/.

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