Sourcing Solutions: Valerie Horn

By Rebecca Stern 

We often say the best, most transformational solutions come from within our communities. We know our family, friends, and neighbors are treasure troves of experiences, expertise, and good heart. 

Sourcing Solutions highlights the hard-earned knowledge and insights residing in our own backyard.

Today we share the story of Valerie Horn and an innovative idea for getting healthier local food into the hands of residents in Letcher County, Kentucky.* 

Valerie Horn is the director of Cowan Community Action Group, also known as Cowan Community Center. She is also the board chair for the City of Whitesburg Farmers Market and the board chair for Community Agricultural Nutritional Enterprises (CANE Kitchen).

Horn noticed people needed access to fresh, healthy, local food. In her community, she faced these obstacles:

  • 92% of students in the Letcher County School District are in the Free and Reduced Lunch Program.
  • 24.4% of Letcher County, over double the national average, live under the poverty line.

Horn’s solution?

Partner with Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation to establish the Farmacy Program. MCHC is a a federally qualified health center, with clinics in communities and schools across Eastern Kentucky.  

The Farmacy initative increases access to locally grown fruits and vegetables through an innovative nutrition program. 

Currently, Farmacy provides 200 patients with diet-related health issues who are also SNAP participants $35 per week in Farmer’s Market tokens for fresh fruits and vegetables.

The City of Whitesburg Farmers Market also has the Double Dollars program, doubling SNAP and senior funds at the market, and Summer Feeding program, providing free healthy meals to anyone 18 and under.

“If we use Maslow’s hierarchy, until we can get that basic need of healthy food taken care of, it’s going to be hard for us to be the best that we can be. And I know that that we can be wonderful. I see wonderful every day,” Horn said.

To learn more about Horn’s work in Whitesburg and Letcher County, read a full question and answer published earlier this month in The Daily Yonder.

* Horn is working on the ground now to support Eastern Kentucky after devastating flooding hit the region on July 28. The projects she’s involved with — CANE Kitchen, City of Whitesburg Farmer’s Market, and Cowan Community Center — all need support to recover and continue serving their communities. Learn how to support them. 

Sourcing Solutions: Community Nutrition

Does this idea resonate with you? Let us know in the comments below or on our Sourcing Solutions social media posts. 

We want to hear your ideas!  Email us at tracy@ruralstrategies.org.

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