This month’s first-ever Thrive NC summit is a cornucopia of conversation and cuisine, but its abundance is rooted in a staggering local need. In Raleigh alone, 15.5 percent of the population is food insecure, which means lacking a consistent, reliable source of affordable and nutritious food. “This statistic speaks for itself,” says Reagan Greene Pruitt, Vice President of Integrated Marketing & Community Engagement for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, Thrive’s presenting sponsor. “This is a calling for change.”
While there’s a food festival element, Thrive NC is meant to be educational, too. Events kick off May 10 with a daytime convention for community and government leaders. Topics to be discussed include childhood obesity, access to healthy food, and long-term health in North Carolina, all meant to spark a statewide conversation. “We’re not targeting certain areas of the state. With this initiative, we’re promoting health and wellness across all 100 counties,” she says.
The chance to eat for a cause comes the evenings of May 10 and 11: City Market in downtown Raleigh will be filled with over 50 North Carolina chefs serving small plates, plus wine and beer from across the state. Chefs Vivian Howard and Ashley Christensen will offer cooking demonstrations on Thursday and Friday nights, respectively; and other bites will be provided from local restaurants like Centro and Mandolin. All ticket proceeds benefit various N.C. nonprofits working to address issues related to food insecurity.
This month’s festival event is the result of an ongoing Thrive campaign that began late last year. Already, the initiative has supported Raleigh’s pay-what-you-can cafe, A Place at the Table, as well as Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s Victory Garden in Durham. Pruitt says she hopes these are just the beginning of fighting the battle of food insecurity in North Carolina. “We know that communities thrive most when they are healthy and active.” –Catherine Currin