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As many as 1 in 3 children experience hunger in rural counties. School meals are often the only way some students get food.

PEACE of Mind project in a school cafeteria working with students

No-cost school meals take the approach of whole-person health, aiding in promotion of academic achievement and performance in rural counties, eliminating meal debt and “lunch shaming”, and providing opportunity for overall youth success. The PEACE of Mind project convenes support from leaders within various and similarly-driven non-profit organizations to effectively equip healthier youth leaders in Edgecombe County through the School Meals for All (SFMA) Ambassadors Program. SMFA NC is working towards making school meals available to all public school students in NC at no cost to families. The SMFA NC Ambassadors Program engages youth ages 13-24 years old in policy and advocacy training to invoke systems level change in their local community. Our focus narrows on empowering youth to advocate for community-led change in their respective parts of the county to maximize food security. Implementing a partnership between A Better Chance A Better Community, The Foundation for Health Leadership and Innovation, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, and the Carolina Hunger Initiative, we aim to prepare the next generation of leaders for healthier rural communities while reducing food insecurities.

Activating youth power and advocating for realistic, community-driven solutions to improve nutrition security in rural communities.

Proposed Aims:

  • Embed sustainable opportunities for youth in Edgecombe County to adequately participate in advocacy efforts related to maximizing food security in the county and in their schools.
  • Amplify awareness of ABC2’s SMFA Ambassadors and World Changers Programs in Edgecombe County and routinely convene a diverse group of community stakeholders to support the program.
  • Elevate community capacity building by convening young leaders and coordinating between partners to provide policy, advocacy, NCCARE360, and Mental Health 101 trainings to the targeted youth.
  • Utilize NCCARE360 to close the referral loop between community-based organizations in Edgecombe County, schools, and youth and their families who need assistance to regularly receive healthy food
  • Improve efficiency, utilization, dissemination, and sustainability of ABC2’s already-existing GIS and story mapping methods to highlight various SDOH areas of need within the ambassadors’ communities and increase access to healthy, locally grown produce with partnership through ABC2’s World Changers Community Farm of Hope, Prosperity, and Change, Carolina Hunger Initiative, and NCCARE360.


Community-Academic Partners

This project will be led by the following Edgecombe community members and UNC members:

Kelsey Yokovich
The Foundation for Health Leadership and Innovation (FHLI)
Kelsey Boyd
A Better Chance A Better Community (ABC2)


Jessica Soldavini
Gillings School of Global Public Health
Marlee Caregnoto
UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

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School Meals For All NC (SMFA) Ambassadors

School Meals For All NC (SMFA) Ambassadors Attention NC Youth and Young Leaders (High School) We are working to secure funding for school meals for all so that every child in every public school in North Carolina has access to … Read more

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