Officially incorporated in January of 1982, the Hunger and Health Coalition began as a labor of love attempting to serve our local neighbors in need. Joan Chater, of Blowing Rock, discussed with local ministers about the increasing requests in our community for food. Joan and a group of friends began offering food to local families in need from a Boone United Methodist Church closet.
After we outgrew the closet at the Depot Street building in 1989, the organization relocated to King Street. Despite the disruption, 1989 was a banner year for our organization. Alongside the creation of several programs, the Coalition began a free health clinic, staffed by physicians who volunteered with the Health Department. The annual Thanksgiving Dinner and the Sharing Tree Programs were also created this same year.
By the mid-1990s, the Hunger and Health Coalition staff attempted to alleviate the difficulties experienced by clients who faced an arduous decision each month: using their limited resources on food or prescription medications. In February of 1995, Joan Chater and Doug McCloughlin began a free pharmacy program.
In 1999, two crucial programs joined the Coalition: the Food Recovery Program and the Individual Drug Program. The Food Recovery Program, funded through the Kulynych Family Foundation, partnered with local restaurants to provide our clients with prepared and repackaged food organized into individual meals. The Individual Drug Program assisted clients in enrolling in patient assistance programs offered by pharmaceutical companies. This enabled clients to access much-needed medications that were unavailable through the in-house free pharmacy service. In late 2002, the Health Wellness Trust Fund of North Carolina provided the Coalition with a three-year grant, allowing for the addition of two, full-time prescription assistants, one of which was located in Ashe County. This medication assistance program continues to operate today.
Since the birth of this compassionate organization, The Hunger and Health Coalition has grown from a closet into a county-owned facility, formerly the Watauga County Health Department. This move allowed for the expansion, renovation, and creation of a myriad of programs designed to assist our neighbors in need. The Hunger and Health Coalition continues to address the needs of vulnerable populations in our area, providing emergency assistance while striving for long-term solutions to the issues facing those we serve.