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Thrive NC kicks off with food summit, festival

May 9, 2019

Community leaders delved into the topic of food insecurity during the Thrive NC food summit on Thursday.

The two-day, sold-out event also features nightly food festivals.

The invitation-only summit at City Market started with Community Food Systems Outreach Coordinator Center for Environmental Farming Systems Shorlette Ammons, who discussed food disparity and its connection with race.

In a panel about the pay-what-you-can model, A Place at the Table founder Maggie Kane discussed her time working with homeless individuals.

“We would go to the soup kitchen,” she said. “We’d eat in five minutes. I saw that it was so different than my experiences with food.”

Kane said she started to take homeless people to lunch. When asked whey they always selected the Golden Corral, the people said they were greeted and got to choose what they wanted to eat.

“We can sit and spend hours. When someone sees us, they value us here.” Kane said.

Renee Boughman, executive chef of donate-what-you-can F.A.R.M. Café in Boone, described the relationship with those who come into the cafe to dine and work.

Boughman talked about Bruce, a musician and carpenter who had a medical emergency that left him disabled. He takes public transportation to the cafe each day and works as their volunteer coordinator.

“It’s as important to me to have that relationship, and it’s happening because of food, and it’s happening because of the community,” she said.

West Craven High School Principal Tabari Wallace, who was named the 2018 North Carolina Principal of the Year, shared his innovative program that has increased breakfast consumption at his school.

By cutting class periods to 84 minutes instead of the traditional 90, Wallace’s school is able to carve out a 15 minute breakfast break following first period. The students also enjoy a 30 minute lunch that involves kiosks.

Thrive NC continues Thursday night with a night of food and drink samples from North Carolina vendors and live music.

As with last year, award-winning chefs Ashley Christensen and Vivian Howard will be heavily involved each night by leading a selected group of chefs in demonstrations.

Howard, who stars in A Chef’s Life on PBS and owns Chef and the Farmer in Kinston, has selected Dean Neff of PinPoint Restaurant in Wilmington, Brian Noyes of Red Truck Rural Bakery of Marshall, Virginia and Cynthia Wong of Life Raft Treats in Charleston, S.C., for demos at Thrive NC on Thursday.

Christensen, who won the James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef this week, selected Meherwan Irani of Chai Pani in Asheville and Cheetie Kumar of Garland in Raleigh to kick off demonstrations on Friday. Lin Peterson of Locals Seafood in Raleigh and Keith Rhodes of Catch in Wilmington are up next, followed by Vansana Nolintha of Bida Manda and Brewery Bhavana in Raleigh and Michael Lee of M Sushi, M Kokko and M Tempura in Durham.

Christensen and Howard have also selected six non-profits to receive the ticket proceeds from their respective nights. Howard has selected Conetoe Family Life Center, the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina and NC Future Farmers of America. Proceeds from Christensen’s night will go to Alliance Medical Ministry, Band Together and Meals on Wheels Wake County.

Each night will also include live music. Bull City Syndicate, Adam Pitts, Danielle Ward, Marcus Anderson and Taylor Leopold will perform on Thursday. On Friday, Jeanne Jolly, New Reveille, Raleigh Jazz Duo and Shana Tucker will perform.

More details can be found on the event website.

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