Fresh Stop Markets like this one in Russell are “farm-fresh food markets that pop up at local churches and community centers in fresh food insecure neighborhoods,” according to New Roots. The Smoketown Family Wellness Center wants to help residents obtain produce from the Fresh Stop in Smoketown. | Courtesy of New Roots

The Smoketown Family Wellness Center has won a $100,000 grant that may help people in the neighborhood to eat more fruits and veggies.

The money from the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust will partly be used to support the center’s efforts to increase access to healthy food, such as fresh produce, said the center’s executive director, Kish Cumi.

Executive Director Kish Cumi

The grant is “mainly for capacity building and to work on our 365 fresh food initiative, an attempt to … provide access to food in Smoketown year-round to our families,” Cumi said.

The center, which offers pediatric care and other services at 760 S. Hancock St., hopes to help families make use of the Smoketown Neighborhood Fresh Stop Market at Coke Memorial United Methodist Church. New Roots, the local nonprofit behind Fresh Stops, describes them online as “farm-fresh food markets that pop up at local churches and community centers in fresh food insecure neighborhoods.”

“We have funding to support families in buying shares for them and then also coming back to our space to prepare the food that they receive from that market,” Cumi said.

According to the New Roots website, “a share is a bounty of fresh, local, all organic seasonal vegetables and a mix of local, organic and conventionally grown fruit purchased by Fresh Stop Market participants (shareholders).”

Increasing access to healthy food jibes with the wellness center’s mission to support families in the raising of children who are healthy in body, mind and spirit.

The teaching kitchen at the Smoketown Family Wellness Center. | Photo by Darla Carter

The wellness center, which is seeing patients and recruiting volunteers, had its grand opening in March and recognizes that health is more than just vaccinations and physicals.

“There’s all these other social determinants of health and one of them being access to healthy food,” Cumi said.

The 365 initiative is just getting off the ground, but “we definitely want to know if there are people who are interested in being a part of what we’re doing.”

The wellness center, which is located in the historic Presbyterian Community Center building, was invited to apply for the grant from the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust, which funds grants for education, the arts and arts education, basic human needs and in other areas.

“We are very excited” about getting this grant, Cumi said. “We are ecstatic.”