The Just Food Project began in 2012 and aims to support the community through initiatives that enhance the viability, vitality, and sustainability of families, small farmers and economic development projects. It services Edgecombe County, one of the poorest in North Carolina and the second largest food desert in the United States.
The project centers around a 5-acre farm, and one of its goals is to bring awareness of the importance of healthy diets and lifestyle to all ages. A main focus of the Just Food Project is to provide families with fresh, organic produce grown in that garden. Targeting families with children ages 5 through 12, the Just Food Project provides fresh fruits and vegetables to families throughout the community. In addition to providing the produce, the program also offers cooking classes to teach children how to prepare it in healthy ways. The facility has anywhere from 25 to 65 children and youth participate in the classes each week, and many of them show their parents what they learn when they return home.
The Just Food Project is embarking on a three-year vision plan to grow the program even further. While focusing on changing the way people eat at earlier ages, the program also wants to raise awareness of the connection between food, overall health, and an active, healthy workforce.
Another focus of the Just Food Project is to help local small farmers remain sustainable contributors to the local economy. The Center currently works with local farmers, who meet at the facility monthly to discuss ways to stay relevant within the larger local and regional food systems. They receive training on how to produce food safely and efficiently, how to produce year-round instead of just seasonally, and how to get their food into local markets and schools.
As part of the Food Justice Project, Franklinton Center at Bricks hosts a regular farmers market offering food produced by the local farmers.