By: Nikki Nies
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
By: Nikki Nies
Congregate meals are meals provided in group setting to those 60 years and older to reduce hunger and curb food insecurity,promote elder socialization and the well-being of older individuals to delay adverse health conditions. Meals are usually served five to seven days a week often times at schools, senior centers, community centers, churches and/or senior house complexes. Aside from serving daily meals, congregate meals help celebrate birthdays, holidays and special dinners.
Many sites also offer a diabetic menu and/or ethnic meals, such as Italian, Chinese or Mexican. Nutrition education is offered before or after meals depending on the facility’s schedule.
While any one and his or her spouse are welcome to join the congregate meals programs, they are intended for seniors most in need. Some programs even offer meals to those younger with disabilities.
Meals are funding by the local Area Agency of Aging. While there are no set admission fees, people are encouraged to provide donations. Meals sites with limited budgeting may not offer meals daily. For information on meal programs, call your Area Agency on Aging. To find your local Area Agency on Aging, call the national Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116.
By: Nikki Nies
One doesn’t have to look too far to see the disparity in available resources and food around the world. Food insecurity doesn’t discriminate, straining families living in cities and the suburbs alike. With 1/10 children living in a food desert, where fresh produce are not readily available and poverty rates increasing 40% from 2001 to 2011, food insecurity is not going away anytime soon.
Food security requires looking at someone’s physical and economic access to resources. Long term food insecurity can lead to increased risk of diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease;malnutrition; increases aggression, stress and anxiety; foodborne diarrhea and impaired brain, social and physical development.
While ensuring food pantries are fully stocked to provide for those depending on the food is one of the many goals to ensure food security, other solutions need to be kept in mind. Such as:
- Work with community developments to build supermarkets that offer affordably priced fruits and vegetables
- Help nonprofits build and maintain community gardens
- Bring farmer’s markets to urban areas
- Develop relationships with organizations that support families in critical conditions
For a city, town, state, village, province or nation to be defined as food secure, when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life”.
Small changes can really make a difference and by people banding together to be advocates for better and more available resources, change can occur.