Get to Know Union County
Union County North Carolina was established in 1842 and is located southeast of Charlotte within the Charlotte Metropolitan Statistical Area. The County is 643 square miles, with 14 municipalities. Union County is the eighth largest county in the State. Union County is the 3rd largest county in agri-business in North Carolina.
Union County is home to nearly 1,000 farms and ranks #3 in the state for the production of eggs and poultry. They also produce beef, pork, milk, and fruits and vegetables, among other things.
The poverty rate in Eastern Union County (13%-22%) is much higher than the poverty rate of Western Union County (3%-7%). Thus, individuals and families in Monroe, Marshville, and other Eastern Union County areas face food insecurity at a higher rate than those in the Western part of the county. With a limited number of farmers selling directly to consumers and families facing limited access to fresh foods, the Food Council of Union County creates a forum to discuss these barriers to health and food accessibility.
Data collected from US Census, UnionCountync.gov, and the US Census of Agriculture.
How We Got Started
When COVID-19 hit our community, the need for a food council became apparent. So many of our neighbors in Union County were struggling to make ends meet after our worlds were turned upside down by the uncertainty of the pandemic.
During the onset of COVID-19, our partners at Union County Health and Human Services were assigned the responsibility by the North Carolina Emergency Operation Center (EOC) to be the feeding coordinator for the County. One component of this job was to work to coordinate food resources and address gaps. They contacted food pantries, nonprofits, churches, schools, and restaurants to determine who was providing food assistance to those in need. During this process, it became apparent that there was a lack of coordination, communication, and collaboration amongst all of these entities. In an effort to address these issues, a food council was formed.
Around the same time, our partners at the Agricultural Center and Cooperative Extension realized that farmers were having trouble selling their produce directly to consumers. With the goal of assisting and supporting small farmers in Union County, they joined forces with developing the food council.
Our food council aims to connect every aspect of Union County's food system; from farmers to producers and all the way to consumers. We also collaborate with nonprofit organizations, faith-based organizations, government agencies, and universities to improve the local food system and share resources with the community.