The Junior League of Charlotte, Inc. (JLC), in collaboration with Communities in Schools (CIS), is
sponsoring a community forum on Tuesday, Sept. 4, on food deserts, bringing awareness home about
our nation’s rise in obesity. The event will feature tours of local community gardens followed by an
expert panel on food deserts moderated by People Magazine's Hero Among Us, Robin Emmons.
A "food desert" is an area where residents have limited access to fresh produce or supermarkets and
supercenter stores that offer healthy, affordable food options. These areas don’t have grocery stores,
produce stands or markets that exist within one mile in urban areas or within 10 miles in rural areas.
According to the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, North Carolina has more than 171
food deserts across 57 counties, impacting 410,000 state residents.
The community forum will bring together community leaders from the private, public and nonprofit
sectors to discuss the topic and engage in a brief Q&A. The event will be held from noon-1 p.m. at the
JLC building, located at 1332 Maryland Ave., Charlotte, NC, 28209. The community garden tours are
scheduled for 10:30-11:30 a.m. and will feature Winterfield Elementary, Reid Park Academy and a
private residence hydroponic garden.
Participating on the panel will be Allison Marshall of FoodCorps; Ron Morgan, director of
director of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Food Policy Council; Anna Helms of CIS; Kathy Metzo of Friendship
Gardens; and Ellin Loflin, assistant principal at First Ward Elementary/Wells Fargo Sense and Science
Vans will be available at 10 a.m. to transport attendees from uptown, and the pick-up point will be
provided to those who RSVP. This FREE event, which is OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, is hosted by the following
JLC committees: Advocacy and Public Awareness (APA), the Public Policy Institute (PPI) and the State
Public Affairs Committee (SPAC). Please email JLCCommunityForum@
About the Guest Speakers
Emmons, who will moderate the forum, is the executive director and founder of Sow Much Good, based
in Charlotte. Sow Much Good connects with communities to increase access, awareness, solutions and
education relative to the link between the environment, health disparities and nutrition. In August 2012,
Emmons was featured in People Magazine as a Hero Among Us and on the cover of Charlotte Woman.
Marshall, a FoodCorps Service Member for Gaston County, is an advocate for health and nutrition at
local elementary schools. FoodCorps is a nationwide team of leaders that connects kids to real food and
helps them grow up healthy.
As the director of 100 Gardens, a nonprofit that promotes alternative gardening methods, Morgan is an
expert on hydroponic and aquaponic gardens. His organization is seeking to build 100 aquaponic food
growing systems – 50 in the United States and 50 in Haiti – to provide a sustainable food source.
Jones is the Clinical Nutrition Manager for Carolinas Medical Center-University and has more than 15
years of experience in nutrition and dietetics, in addition to serving as a member of the Academy of
Nutrition and Dietetics. Jones spearheaded the “teaching garden” at CMC-University, the first of any
community garden in the Carolinas Healthcare Systems facility. The 500-square-foot garden provides
nutrition education to hospital visitors and staff, local school children and community members.
Marks is the chair of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Food Policy Council, whose “mission is to bring together
a diverse array of stakeholders to influence policy at all levels in order to maximize the availability,
affordability and economic viability of our food shed.” Marks and the council’s purpose is to advocate
for policies that build a sustainable, equitable and healthy local food system.
Helms is the site coordinator for Communities in Schools at Winterfield Elementary. Winterfield is home
to an active community garden.
Metzo is the garden development director at Friendship Gardens, a nonprofit in Charlotte that formed
from collaboration between Slow Food Charlotte and Friendship Trays. Friendship Gardens is an
expanding network of community, school, faith-based, institutional, public, private, and backyard
gardens. Most of the garden partnerships share their harvest for the benefit of Friendship Trays, which
provides more than 750 meals a day to members of the Charlotte community who have limited access
to healthy food.
Loflin is the assistant principal at First Ward Elementary and is building a community garden as a part of
a revitalization project at the school. First Ward Elementary’s Sense and Science Garden received a
$160,000 grant from Wells Fargo to finance the garden.