Food security is the access to sufficient food for an active, healthy life. Community Food Security Initiative (CFSI) is the development of sustainable, community based strategies to ensure all have access to culturally acceptable, nutritionally adequate food at all times. By rescuing food that would otherwise go to the waste side, food recovery programs can provide nutritious meals, protect the environment and save money.
Food rescue programs are involved in gathering leftover fresh and non-perishable food from restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries, and cafeterias. Strategies to strengthen local food systems:
- Farmer’s Markets and roadside stands: increases access to fresh produce; support regional farmers; rewards sense of community;
- Food Recovery and Gleaning Programs: collect excess wholesome foods that would be otherwise thrown away (i.e. farms, packing houses, caterers, cafeterias and restaurants) for delivery to hungry people
- Prepared and Perishable Food Programs (PPFPs): nonprofit programs that link sources of unused, cooked and fresh foods with social service agencies that serve the hungry
- Throughout New York state, community and/or rooftop gardens have started “Grow an Extra Row” campaigns and “Seed and Seedling Distribution” programs that improve access to healthy food, offers skill and confidence building and food security
- Community Support Agriculture (CSA): offers usually organic produce out of the fields with affordable prices in comparison to grocery stores or distributors; some CSA accept Food Stamps or operate on a sliding scale
- Food Buying Clubs: when winter rolls around, food buying clubs are a great way to include variety in your meals all year round; produce is harvested and distributed to CSA members at neighborhood site weekly throughout the summer and fall; encourages participation from low income; bring many people together to cooperatively purchase food; traditionally “food share” costs members about 50% of price in traditional retail market; no eligibility or income requirement required for participation
Buying locally isn’t just for low income families, but for those that want to take a more proactive approach to the foods consumed. Locally grown food also supports small-scale farms and strengthens the local food supply! What initiatives have you seen occur at the local, state and federal level? What programs do you think could use improvement?
Photo Credit:Hungry Action NYS and NJ Family