Western North Carolina Food Assessments

This article was contributed by Angel Cruz and Becky Dobosy of North Carolina State University.

North Carolina’s Appalachian region boasts a strong tradition of supportive, close-knit communities in addition to its beauty and rich natural resources.  Many communities, organizations, and churches in Western North Carolina (WNC) work daily to meet the basic needs and improve the quality of life for residents in their communities; placing a special emphasis on food security and healthy lifestyles for all residents in recent years.

In order to better understand both the unique assets and needs of the community, many groups are conducting food system assessments. Conducting assessments is an important first step in both beginning and furthering food system work because the resources and challenges to thriving food systems are different in every community. Assessments can vary in scope, ranging from one county to the entire state, and explore topics as diverse as production, economics, chronic disease, socio-demographics, and many others.

Uniting the efforts of nonprofits, government initiatives, churches and private individuals in the work towards greater food security will allow us to make the largest impact in the fight against food insecurity. Facilitating such collective impact is one goal of the Appalachian Foodshed Project. Sharing information, decreasing redundancy in work, and increasing cooperation between organizations allows these passionate groups and individuals to more effectively and efficiently impact our communities.

Below is a list of current and past WNC food assessments. If you want to know more about a particular assessment, click on the assessment name and you will be linked to their website.


Summary of Community and Food Assessments in NC

Assessment Counties Indicators Comments
Community Transformation Grant Project Region One All counties eventually Uninsured, Physicians, socio-demographics, obesity, diabetes, food deserts, tobacco usage, activity, Focused on:Active Living and Healthy EatingTobacco Free Living


WNC Food Policy Council Cherokee CountyClay CountyGraham County

Haywood County

Jackson County

Macon County

Swain County

Ag Census DataAsset Mapping
ASAP Food and Farm Assessment for Seeds of Change   Alleghany CountyAshe CountyWatauga County

Wilkes County

Farming EconomyLocal EconomyFarmers Markets

Consumer Demand

Local Production

Focused on local food and small farmers
Asheville-Buncombe Food Policy Council Buncombe County undefined
Center for Environmental Farming Systems All counties eventually Undefined Working with local Food Policy Councils to do assessments
Community Readiness Assessment: Access to healthy foods Cabarrus, Catawba, Cleveland, Gaston, Henderson, Jackson, Orange, Rowan, Yancey Counties Existing community efforts, community knowledge of efforts, leadership, community climate, community knowledge about the issue, resources related to the issue Readiness toolkit available for other assessments of healthy food access and safe physical activity space.


Know of an additional community or food assessment going on in your area? Whether it’s your organization’s or a group in your community, we’d love to hear about it. Send an email to ­­­­afp@vt.edu with the name, counties, indicators being studied, and a short description of the project goals and we will add it to the blog and our website.

Angel Cruz and Becky Dobosy are part of the AFP Management Team.  They are students at North Carolina State University.