Community Food Security

Did you know?

27% of the food served in the U.S. is wasted. At the same time, 35 million Americans are hungry or unsure about what or when their next meal might be.

Policies and programs implemented under the label of community food security address a diverse range of issues, including:

  1. Food availability and affordability
  2. Direct food marketing
  3. Diet-related health problems
  4. Participation in and access to federal nutrition assistance programs
  5. Ecologically sustainable agricultural production
  6. Farmland preservation
  7. Economic viability of rural communities
  8. Economic opportunity and job security
  9. Community development and social cohesion

At first glance, some of these topics don’t seem to be related. For instance, what does farmland preservation have to do with diet related health problems? Or direct marketing?

But digging a bit deeper, one can see the connections. In Oklahoma, high rates of obesity and diet-related health problems are due in part to diets with too many high fat, high sugar foods and not enough fresh fruits and vegetables.

Many argue that the best tasting, and therefore most likely to be eaten, fruits and vegetables are those grown nearby – picked ripe, handled properly and served as quickly as possible. When this is done, the nutritional value is high.

In order to have highly palatable, fresh fruits and vegetables close at hand, one must have a viable local agriculture and viable local markets such as farmers’ markets where farmers make direct sales to consumers.

In order to have a viable local agriculture, local farm land must be preserved. Much of the best farmland in the nation surrounds cities, where it at most risk of being lost, converted into subdivisions or industrial parks (this is also true in Oklahoma). Hence, there is a need for farmland preservation programs.

Looking at food and agriculture through the lens of community food security allows one to see the connections between seemingly unrelated issues.

Community food security (CFS) supports the development and enhancement of sustainable, community-based strategies to improve access of low-income households to healthful nutritious food supplies, increase the self-reliance of communities in providing for their own food needs, and promote comprehensive responses to local food, farm, and nutrition issues.

(From the USDA Economic Research Service Briefing Room: Community Food Security)

Food-Food-Insecurity

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