Chapter puts heart into community partnership

    Via High Point University

    High Point University’s Sigma Nu fraternity is partnering with the American Heart Association and D-UP and has raised more than $12,000 to support a community garden within D-UP’s Eatery Sprout Education Garden Program and other resources within the American Heart Association’s organization. Donations are still being collected and can be made here.

    The Eatery Sprout Education Garden program at D-UP, a local nonprofit and afterschool program aimed at teaching children how to live healthy lifestyles, is a grass roots initiative for Washington Street community youth and their families that targets holistic change in food security with overall health, social and economic success.

    “The need is great, and we’re fortunate to have the members of Sigma Nu recognize the importance of food security in our community,” says Jakki Davis, executive director of D-UP. “Not only will the donated funds provide fresh food from the garden and nutrition education; it will also provide our students an opportunity to gain knowledge about farming and agriculture industry with hopes they will become passionate about providing food for their families and the country. We’re grateful to receive the donation in addition to the positive impact and engagement Sigma Nu will have with our students.”

    The funds raised will provide all the necessities to sustain the community garden for the first year and provide materials, equipment, maintenance, refrigeration and distribution of produce into the community. Funds will also be available to assist various local programs within the American Heart Association’s organization.

    “It’s evident there are local individuals who lack the financial means to provide for themselves and their families with clean, sustainable, organic food,” says Madhava Pally, the fraternity’s philanthropy chairman. “This is a relevant issue that students see every day, and it needs to be addressed and fixed. We hope that if we can successfully start with our garden, more gardens will emerge and more people can benefit from them each year.”

    Additionally, the fraternity plans to use the garden as an interactive classroom for children to learn basic gardening skills, as well as basic food preparation and cooking skills.

    “Working with Sigma Nu the last couple years has been amazing,” says Garet Beane, the development director with the American Heart Association in the Triad. “They are a professional group of young men that I am proud to be affiliated with. When I am working with them, I know that our future is bright if they are leading it. They saw that the pandemic was going to impact their efforts with the car show, so they quickly pivoted and worked with us to find another way to make an impact on the health of our community.”

    “While providing food is the main purpose of the garden, there are so many potential benefits that extend beyond that,” says Michael Fragnito, Sigma Nu president. “The garden will also be used to enhance the fraternity’s new member education program, strengthen brotherhood bonds through active service, and stimulate frequent interaction with the local community.”

    Members of Sigma Nu fraternity recognize introducing children to healthy eating habits at a young age can help combat heart disease and set them on the path to live longer, healthier lives.

    “Fast food consumption is massive here, and it leads to unhealthy habits and lifestyles,” says Carter Birdsall, vice president of the fraternity. “I think working with the American Heart Association to provide an environment targeting a change in these patterns is vitally important, not only for our chapter and our university, but more importantly for our community.”

    HPU’s Sigma Nu chapter has been recognized for three consecutive years as the highest fundraising team within a Triad university with its car show fundraiser. They have also volunteered at AHA’s Health Expo in High Point and the Winston-Salem Heart and Stroke Walk.