Oct 5, 2021
North Carolina SweetPotato Commission partners with Ripe Revival

2021 has brought a year of celebration for the North Carolina SweetPotato Commission as they began celebrating their 60th anniversary milestone. To continue in that celebratory spirit, NCSPC has announced their partnership with Ripe Revival to host a first of its kind event in connection with the Harrison Family YMCA’s after-school program.

In conjunction with United Way, YMCA after school programs strive to help each child reach their full potential by offering a positive and enriching environment that encourages the development of character, leadership and cooperative spirit. In that vein, the NCSPC has crafted an afternoon of fun for children in which they will learn all about everyone’s favorite orange superfood.

“The growers, packers and shippers of the NC Sweetpotato industry give every day to our local communities and beyond, by providing the state’s vegetable and one of the world’s top superfoods, the sweetpotato.

“We at the North Carolina SweetPotato Commission are excited to have the opportunity to offer additional sweetness to our communities by giving back while continuing to celebrate our big anniversary milestone,” Michelle Grainger, executive director of the NCSPC, said in a news release. “We couldn’t agree more with our industry (partners), Ripe Revival, that the United Way and the Harrison Family YMCA provide incredible support in their community, and we are honored to add to that community support and early childhood enrichment -– even if for an afternoon.

Various activities centered around sweetpotatoes are planned for the community after-school event scheduled for Oct. 8 at the Harrison Family YMCA, 1000 Independence Dr., Rocky Mount, NC 27804 from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Currently, approximately 55 children are expected to participate ranging from grade levels K through 5.

Activities will focus primarily on sweetpotatoes and include stations featuring information about careers in agriculture, sweetpotato art, and general fun facts about NC sweetpotatoes. Children will also have a chance to taste and enjoy a smoothie recipe using NC sweetpotatoes and discuss their powerful nutrition led by Ripe Revival’s onsite Registered Dietitian, Sarah Hester MS, RD. And to the delight of children in attendance, the NCSPC’s very own mascot, Spencer Sweetpotato, will also be in attendance.

“We are honored and excited for our partnership with the North Carolina SweetPotato Commission, Ripe Revival, and the United Way, as they are all pivotal organizations in our community,” saidJacquelyn Price, Chief Executive Officer of the Harrison Family YMCA. “In our After School Program, we focus on character development, STEAM activities, community service, and physical activity and this sweetpotato event is an awesome opportunity for our children to learn about and engage with a food that is so important to our state. We are looking forward to this afternoon full of education, creativity, and fun for our kids.”

Will Kornegay, CEO of Ripe Revival has a “sweet spot” for the sweetpotato industry having worked with farmers, distributors and processors of the vegetable for over a decade. “Our mission at Ripe Revival is to serve our communities through food. We do that by helping farmers market their crops, mentoring the next generation of farmers, distributing food to families in need and empowering communities through agriculture. We’re so thankful for our community partnerships that have made this event possible.”

Even while waiting to be picked up by their parents, children will continue their journey of perfecting their sweetpotato education. Two classrooms, one for grade levels K-2 and another for grade levels 3rd to 5th, will serve for children to complete excerpts from the NCSPC’s activity workbook pages.

“It has been shown that it may take upwards of 15 “exposures” for a child to accept a new food. This event provides children many different ways to interact or have “exposures” with sweetpotatoes – through taste, touch, art, and more! My hope is that children learn to love this amazing veggie and continue to know their importance to our state and their own way of eating,” says Sarah Hester MS, RD of Ripe Revival.

In addition to all the fun activities that the children will get to participate in while at the Harrison Family YMCA, they will also be receiving a sweet NCSPC swag bag to take home. Tote bags will include fresh sweetpotatoes, as well as several recipes that are nutritious, delicious and extremely affordable to make.  Inside their swag bag, children will also find a Spencer Sweetpotato plush doll and stickers, and sweetpotato activity books and crayons.

“Partnership is a cornerstone to a stronger community, and we are so pleased to join together in this event that promotes healthy eating and appreciation for our superfood, the sweetpotato,” says Ginny Mohrbutter, executive director of United Way Tar River Region. “As our United Way celebrates its 70th Anniversary alongside our local partners, like the YMCA and Ripe Revival, we share in the excitement of the 60th Anniversary of the North Carolina Sweetpotato Commission.”

Funds for this event through were raised through the sale of NCSPC’s special 60th  anniversary t-shirts, available in both short and long sleeve versions, available by calling the commission’s headquarters, 919.894.1067.

Founded in 1961 the North Carolina SweetPotato Commission is a nonprofit corporation made up of over 400 sweetpotato producers, along with the packers and business associates that support them.  NCSPC is committed to supporting its growers and increasing sweetpotato consumption through education, promotional activities, research, and honorable horticultural practices among its producers.

Ripe Revival is grounded in its mission to “Revive Produce and People for Purpose One Fruit and Vegetable At A Time.” Ripe Revival aims to bridge the gap between “excess” and “access” by supporting U.S. family farmers in finding a home for their whole crop – marketable and unmarketable – and serving communities through our common currency; food.

For more information about Ripe Revival or Ripe Revival Market, visit: https://www.riperevival.com/.

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