GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — A relatively new app is helping in the fight to end food insecurity in North Carolina.

CLICK HERE to check out the Visit NC Farms app

Created by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, the Visit NC Farms app is free to users. It connects tourists and locals to fresh local produce.

Agriculture is one of the biggest industries for our state, bringing in nearly $84 billion annually. Their thought is to mix agriculture with tourism to bring an end to food insecurity in the immediate Pitt County area.

Pitt County jumped on board just over a month ago, and county officials are hopeful the app could pay big divedends in addressing food insecurity.

According to 2019-2020 data from the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, over 38,000 people in Pitt County were food insecure. That’s 22% of the county’s total population.

Find local statistics on food insecurity by county  

“There’s a lot of people hungry in our community, and resources can be hard to find especially if you’re scared in that kind of situation,” said Pitt County Farm and Food Council Coordinator Caitlin Cummins. “Food insecurity is basically making sure people have food, and then there is nutrition security which is making sure people have access to nutritious food because not all foods meet the demands of our bodies.”

The Visit NC Farms app is helping to fight that battle of food insecurity and nutrition insecurity by making nutritious food more accessible. It features local farms, fisheries, farmers markets, pick-your-owns, food pantries, restaurants and more. And it’s all homegrown right here in North Carolina.

When users open the app, they can put in their location and select the mile radius that they are interested in viewing. Users then have eight categories to browse through, selecting the options they are looking for.

“If you want to find local eggs you can search that and it will show you all the different locations that offer that,” Cummins said. “Say you want to get pork from a certain farmer because you’ve had it before and it’s so good, you can see what restaurants are serving that.”

It takes out the middle man. Customers can buy produce and more directly from the source, which is cheaper on average than fresh shopping at a grocery store.

But the app does more than that, it highlights local events, lodging and local trip itineraries.

Sponsors include the Pitt County Farm and Food Council, NC Cooperative Extension – Pitt County Branch, Greenville-Pitt County Convention & Visitors Bureau and Pitt County Economic Development.