A picture of corn rows.
Huw Williams / Wikipedia

Inmates at seven North Carolina prisons have grown 16,250 pounds of fresh produce for local food banks and soup kitchens since the Combating Hunger program launched last spring.

The initiative is a partnership with the nonprofit Harvest Now, which has helped set up similar programs in other states.

North Carolina Public Safety Department Spokesman Keith Acree says this will allow nearby charities to provide more nutritious food to people in their communities.

Vegetables at the Moore Square Farmers Market Raleigh.
alli-son / Flickr

A new program is ramping up efforts to help farmers in Moore, Lee and Rockingham Counties keep their land in production and keep their businesses viable.

Rockingham Extension Agent Paige Burns says the Green Fields Initiative is a spin-off from a federal program that helps farmers directly market their produce to customers and restaurants.

Penelope Easton ventured to the Alaskan territory as a young woman in 1948. It would have been an intimidating move for many young women in that era. But for Easton, the move was just another in a series of adventures across the globe.

Image of Amanda Holliday with her grandmother Celeste Sawyer.
Amanda Holliday

Many kids grow up spending time after school with other kids in their neighborhood playing pick-up soccer, videogames or capture the flag. 

Students at lunch
U.S. Department of Agriculture

About 650 schools throughout the state are opting into a program to provide free breakfast and lunch for all students.

It is part of a new program called Community Eligibility Provision, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The idea is to allow schools with high percentages of low-income children to offer free meals for all, instead of collecting individual applications for free and reduced price meals.

In Durham, 10 schools are offering free meals to all students.

A picture of sweet potatoes.
Llez / Wikipedia

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is giving millions of dollars to North Carolina State University to research sweet potatoes.  The grant is aimed at developing new breeding tools to improve crop production in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Craig Yencho heads the university's sweet potato breeding program and is the project director.  He said sweet potatoes already feed millions of people in the region.

"It's a very hardy crop," said Yencho. "It can resist drought and heat very well.  It can be grown in a really wide range of soil types and it produces a lot of food per acre.”

Despite all the cheerleading for healthy eating, Americans still eat only about 1 serving of fruit per day, on average. And our veggie consumption, according to an analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls short, too.

Elderly senior citizen hand on cane
Meena Kadri, Flickr, Creative Commons

Researchers are raising questions about malnutrition among North Carolina's senior citizens. Doctors at UNC Hospitals report, over a two month period, more than half of patients ages 65 or older who came to the emergency department were either malnourished or a risk of malnutrition.

The study looked at about 140 older patients and saw no notable difference in the nutrition of rural versus urban seniors. There was also no noticeable difference between genders. The greater discrepancy came with access to proper food.

A picture of fresh produce.
Jina Lee / Wikipedia

People living in a southeast Raleigh neighborhood have a new place to buy groceries. 

About 18 months ago, two Kroger stores closed forcing residents of the South Park area to travel long distances to find fresh, affordable food.  Two church groups working with volunteers, opened the Galley Grocery on Bragg Street late last month. 

Ashley Lee is a member of the Hope Community Church and helped get the new venture off the ground.  She said there are still some challenges to overcome.   

A picture of insulin vials and a syringe.
.:[ Melissa ]:. / Flickr

A report from Harvard University says one-in-10 North Carolinians has diabetes, and that the disease will cost the state $17 billion per year by 2025.

Sarah Downer is a fellow at Harvard's Health Law and Policy Clinic. She said limited access to healthcare, nutritious foods and safe places to exercise are dangerous to communities.

North Carolina has the fifth highest rate of food insecurity, meaning people don't have regular access to nutritious meals. The state also ranks fifth for early childhood obesity.