At 6-foot-7, the bald Dominic Barrett stands out in a crowd.
That's good because his message is important: This is the first generation that may live shorter lives than their parents — partly because of their food habits.
The Lynchburg native has always been passionate about food issues. After graduating from Elon University, he worked in Charleston, S.C., for three years, among other things helping put Massachusetts Institute of Technology-designed laptops into rural schools.
But he jumped at the chance to become director of United Methodist Urban Ministries, knowing his concentration would be the organic Shalom Farms in Goochland County. "Access to healthy food ought to be a right," Barrett says.
The farm raised 45,000 pounds of local organic produce this year that was either donated to Central Virginia Food Bank or parceled out to low-income neighborhoods that lack easy and reliable access to grocery stores and healthy food options.
"Some of these kids previously wouldn't want to touch anything that came out of the ground," he says. "To see them excited about say, collard greens they grew themselves, that is my favorite part."
Barrett heads to Washington each year to lobby Congress for smarter food policy and bills that will protect food programs for the poor. Locally he serves as chairman of the enterprise development subcommittee on Mayor Dwight Jones' Task Force on Hunger. And he spends his free time volunteering with the YWCA trauma unit, helping victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, and working with Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Editors' note: The print version of this story incorrectly identified Barrett's alma mater.