Care Fair at Cedar Grove

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A couple of weeks ago I attended a “Care Fair” at the Cedar Grove Community
Improvement Center. This event was sponsored by the Brunswick Wellness Coalition
(BWC) and was open to the public. Other hosts were Partners in Community, Inc and
Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas.

Chef John LaTour, Healthy Families-Healthy Futures and Avery Ashley, Family and Consumer Science Extension Agent pass out meals at the Care Fair

The Care Fair featured exhibits, health screenings, education, information and give
aways by local health agencies, hospitals and organizations. According to Dr. Leigh Lane, the Executive Director of BWC “the goal of this event was to bring awareness to
different resources in the county and to host more community health screenings.”

Part of the Care Fair was a community conversation about school meals conducted by North Carolina Alliance for Health. This discussion and listening session addressed perceptions of school meals. The Alliance for Health’s mission to make breakfast and lunch available to all families in all North Carolina public schools at no cost. If you weren’t able to attend this event, you can learn more or join in on the conversion at their website at School Meals for All NC.

Chef JOhn Latour preparing chicken salad wraps for the boxed meal for the Care Fair participants

Our Extension Family and Consumer Science team along with Chef John LaTour from Healthy Families-Healthy Futures prepared and distributed a healthy meal to all participants. This meal included chicken wraps, fruit cups, vegetable slaw and a sweet potato salad.

I, personally, got involved helping to peel and chop over 30 pounds of NC sweet potatoes. These were then roasted for the Sweet Potato and Black Bean Salad. Chef John LaTour from Healthy Families-Healthy Futures developed this recipe and coordinated the food preparation.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Salad

  • 1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ¼-inch dice
  • 1 small red onion, cut into ¼ inch dice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon avocado oil
  • 1 cup no-salt-added black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ cup pepitas
  • ½ teaspoon of chili powder
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro (optional)

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Salad

Preheat oven to 400 F. Place pepitas in a bowl and sprinkle with the chili powder. Toss the pepitas to coat. Place sweet potatoes and onions on a baking tray in a single layer. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt. Toss until sweet potatoes are well coated with the oil and salt. Roast until sweet potatoes are tender and starting to brown about 25-30 minutes. Once the sweet potatoes are done, transfer them to a bowl. While the sweet potatoes are still warm, add the black beans, pepitas, and cilantro (if using).

The dish can be served either warm or cold. Makes 4-6 servings.

Notes: Pepitas are pumpkin seeds without the hull. Spiced pepitas can be found in
some stores. If using spiced pepitas, eliminate the step of coating them with the chili
powder. If you don’t have avocado oil, any vegetable oil will work.

The Healthy Families-Healthy Futures organization is dedicated to empowering teachers, school staff and families to embrace healthy eating habits. Chef John works with schools, seniors and 4-H youth in our county teaching them about cooking and eating health foods. He has other healthy recipes at their website at

The Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC, Healthy Families-Healthy Futures, N.C. Cooperative Extension-Brunswick County Center, and the Brunswick Wellness Coalition provided meals for the Care Fair participants.

Syracuse is a Family and Consumer Science team member and can be reached at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Brunswick County Center 910-253-2610 or by email at