Food Access and Security

 

Desired Result: All in Watauga County have access to fresh, local food.

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Session Summary

Through the Results Based Action (RBA) planning process, the Food Access & Security group developed a number of key strategies that our community can take to ensure that All in Watauga County Have Access to Fresh, Local Food. They also identified a number of indicators that could help us better know what this goal looks like. Below, you will find the full notes from this Focus Area's action planning process. 

The top ranked strategies for addressing food security & access were:
1. To work on policy change.
2. To increase understanding of the challenges that low income community members face by collaborating with by collaborating with those organizations already working with these community members.
3. To recruit new members to the council, including those affected by those issues we are concerned about.
4. Aggregate existing data on these indicators in order to track change, and collecting primary data when it is necessary.
Increase communication between existing organization.
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Top ranked indicators for tracking food security and access:

  1. The number of unique visitors to local food sales/distribution points

    - This might best be calculated by looking at the Farmers' Market, Food Hub, CSAs, and F.A.R.M. Cafe...
  2. The percent of low resource/low income residents accessing fresh/local foods

    This might best be calculated through the number of pantries/distribution points that provide fresh/local foods.
  3. The number of people involved in school or community gardens

    The group indicated that this would be most helpful by understanding these numbers in number of children and number of people total.  
In addition:
1. There was a strong desire, in the action planning session, to include those who are food insecure in the Food Council's work, rather than simply making decisions "for them".
2. There was also a need to define “all” (older populations, those from different economic backgrounds, etc.) and “local” more clearly.
3. The difference between “having access” and “accessing” was brought up throughout the Focus Area group's conversation, feeling it was most important that individuals were actually accessing these fresh, local food options.
4. Including all sectors of the community, not only markets but education and health care, was also heavily communicated by the Focus Area group.

Food Access & Security - Full Session Notes

Result Statement (This is the the goal of this Focus Area.)

All in Watauga County have access to fresh, local food.

Experience (If the result statement were true, what would you see, hear, or do? [in positive terms])

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  • People accessing food pantries
  • People in (and knowledgeable of) community gardens
  • Farmers' markets have diverse customer base (Ethnic, Racial, Income)
  • Culturally diverse/appropriate food sold/available
  • Schools serving locally grown/sourced food
  • Local food available every day - multiple outlets
  • Local food available with online ordering
  • People know what to do with fresh food
  • People/families cooking
  • Workshops on cooking/food preparation - online (youtube)
  • All excess food has outlets in the community
  • Food preserved
  • Education/Awareness importance of eating healthily
  • People know/connect healthy eating with good health/reduced health care costs
  • Prescriptions for fresh/locally healthy food
  • People growing food at home
  • Supportive policies for growing food in neighborhoods
  • Spanish - written and spoken - at farmers' markets
  • Grocery stores promoting and selling local, Watauga Grown
  • Farmers have support/access to resources and consumers have access to farm(s)
  • Money and people to support school gardens; intergenerational
  • Aging adults have local food brought to them/Bring them to markets

Indicators (How would we measure these experiences [data points]? The Focus Area group ranked the most important indicators [noted in bold].)

  • Number of schools with school gardens
  • Pounds of food grown in school and community gardens
  • Number of people (children, total) involved in school/community gardens
  • Pounds of local food distributed to homes: gardens, pantries
  • Number of unique visitors to local food sales/distribution points; demographic percentages of Farmers' Market, CSA, Food Hub, F.A.R.M. Cafe
  • Number of households with active home gardens
  • Number of active gardens/farms
  • Percent of children eligible for free/reduced school lunch
  • Number of households eligible for SNAP/EBT
  • Amount ($) of local food purchased with SNAP/EBT
  • Percent of institutional food purchased locally
  • Percent of participants reporting knowledge gain
  • Percent of community members at a healthy weight
  • Percent of community members reporting that they are eating local food

What's working in Watauga County? 

  • Farmers' market donates
  • Plant-A-Row
  • Support for gardens in trailer park communities
  • Food banks value fresh food distribution
  • Preservation - freezing, canning
  • Schools have gardens, children are participating - taste tests
  • Double-bucks
  • Cost shares with CSAs
  • Cooking workshops - videos
  • Donations from farmers

Partners (Who already works, or could work, on Food Access & Security in Watauga County?)

  • Hospitality House
  • Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture
  • Cooperative Extension
  • Health Department
  • Schools
  • High Country Local First
  • Churches/Faith communities
  • Moms
  • Farmer Foodshare
  • Backyard gardeners
  • Farmers' Markets
  • Food Pantries
  • Hunger and Health Coalition
  • Casting Bread
  • PHARMN
  • Senior Centers
  • Western Watauga Food Outreach
  • App State
  • F.A.R.M. Cafe
  • Farmers
  • Greening-My-Plate Month
  • Lettuce Learn
  • WAMY
  • Community Care Clinic
  • Local Government
  • State Government
  • Society of St. Andrews
 

What could we do more of (or do) to make a greater impact? (The Focus Area group ranked the most important indicators [noted in bold].

  • Policy change -  Health department, Schools
  • Expand Knowledge about resources, Food Hub/distribution
  • Expand knowledge of why and how to get/prepare local foods
  • Understanding the challenges of low income residents be collaborating with organizations working with these community members
  • Help build communications and education between organizations/pantries working with local foods
  • Help  local groups work together to plan what to plant - collaboration between school gardens and pantries
  • Offer education about how foods are grown, consider ways to share methods/labeling
  • Provide resources at food outlets about what to buy together/how to cook
  • Develop outreach strategy to reach the percent not accessing local
  • Researching and spearheading grants
  • Recruiting new and many members for the Council/its working groups - include folks we’re working with
  • Advocacy for local food
  • Collect data on these indicators and track change
  • Research funding mechanisms for local food strategies
  • Look for paid coordination of food council
 

Next Steps

The Food Access & Security group will meet in the next few weeks to begin to initiate its key strategies: 

1. To work on policy change.
2. To increase understanding of the challenges that low income community members face by collaborating with by collaborating with those organizations already working with these community members.
3. To recruit new members to the council, including those affected by those issues we are concerned about.
4. Aggregate existing data on these indicators in order to track change, and collecting primary data when it is necessary.
Increase communication between existing organization.

If you would like to become involved in this Focus Area's work or learn more, please contact Maria Julian (AppHealth) at maria.julian@apphealth.com.