FORT BRAGG (Tribune News Service) — The Cumberland County Health Department is assembling a food policy council that aims to increase accessibility to healthy foods in Cumberland County and at Fort Bragg.

In July of 2020, the Cumberland County Public Health Department received a $100,000 grant from the Aetna Foundation, the American Public Health Association and the National Association of Counties, to fund the project, said Health Director of Cumberland County Jennifer Green.

"To our knowledge, this would be one of the first joint military installation and county food policy councils in the country," Green said. "This would be something new and different."

The policy's mission is to make healthy food accessible to the Cumberland County and Fort Bragg communities, Green said.

"Really, the purpose of the food policy council is to think about — how do we increase accessibility to foods?" she said. "How do we make policy changes as it relates to Fort Bragg and Cumberland County that would advance equity and access to healthy foods?"

The Cumberland County Public Health Department hopes to take the policy to the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners in the summer to then establish a council, in order to begin deliberation by the fall, Green said.

The council would include at minimum, representatives from Fort Bragg, the county, the agriculture industry, higher education, the school districts on and off Fort Bragg, public health or health care and at least three people from the community, Green said.

"I think this presents a really great opportunity and partnership with Fort Bragg," she said. "We have many resources for food in our community, but we also know that there are people in our community that go hungry each day, and do not have constant resources to access food and access healthy food, in a way that is equitable both on and off the installation," Green said.

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