When our community was ranked number 1 in the nation for food insecurity,we were left with a choice. We could ignore the issue, blame others, or hope someone else would fix it.

I am so proud of High Point because we chose to come together to address hunger NOW! That is the mission of the Greater High Point Food Alliance.

After our first year, I continue to be amazed by the response of our community. There is now a weekly food drop in High Point for the first time ever. There is now a food pantry in the Burns Hill neighborhood. West End neighbors started a community garden. The Washington Street community is hosting cooking classes — along with many, many, more examples.As proud as I am of our progress in addressing hunger, I am even more excited about where we are heading. This next year will be about empowerment. We know that the charity model of emergency food assistance, while necessary, is insufficient. To make a lasting difference, we also need to address the underlying causes of hunger. We need to find ways for families to rise above food insecurity. Our long term model is about teaching to fish so a man can eat for a lifetime versus giving a fish so he can eat that day.

As strategies and initiatives to empower our neighbors develop, we will create lasting change. Our long term goals are about lowering the NEED for food assistance. This is a model based on community development and renewal. Community development is harder to achieve, and yet absolutely necessary.

Over the next 90 days, your Greater High Point Food Alliance will focus on ideas, create strategies, and empower our neighbors. These efforts will lead into our second-ever Greater High Point Food Summit — Friday March 18 and Saturday, March 19. Please join us.

For more information or to volunteer, visit our website – www.ghpfa.org. We are making a lasting difference in High Point. We are creating a community that is food secure. We can do this. We will do it, NOW!

[The community foundation made an $8000 grant to the GHPFA in 2015 to support the incredible work they are doing.]

Written by Matt Thiel, who is a member of the Greater High Point Food Alliance. This article was first published in the the High Point Enterprise.