Community Food Security Summit by Jim Embry

Community Food Security Summit by Jim Embry

We recognize that in Kentucky, agriculture is a critically important industry and our farmers need much greater support; that hunger is a serious problem facing many families; that access to affordable, fresh and nutritious food is a serious problem, especially affecting children; that agricultural and ecological literacy for our youth is essential to create a sustainable future; that faith congregations have significant roles to play in aligning lifestyles and consumer choices with religious values, that there are significant environmental, health and economic benefits to the state and its residents from expanding agricultural production; and that our current agricultural production practices impact and will be affected by climate change. At no time in recent history are these matters more prevalent
in society than the present.

Kentucky’s food system is a broad, dynamic enterprise where developments in the food system are driven by consumers, industry, agribusiness, small farms, universities, regulatory agencies, and local government. The sustainability of the food system
will depend on the ability of these groups to collaborate and help define decisions made today that will certainly affect tomorrow’s opportunities.

The Food Security Task Force Summit has been developed to offer the opportunity for individuals from diverse food system backgrounds to openly discuss issues affecting the sustainability of Kentucky’s food system. Summit participants will have the opportunity to discuss food, nutrition, health, medicine, education, faith connections, policy, education and environmental trends that will shape the future food system. A summary report of the Summit will be distributed to state decisionmakers with participant questions, concerns, and ideas to help guide the development of a sustainable and secure food system in Kentucky.

Summit Purpose

Designed to catalyze change in the food system of Kentucky that will develop greater urban and rural partnerships resulting in agricultural development opportunities, sustainable communities, greater access to healthy food, and vibrant local economies.

1. We have the people, land and climate needed to produce fresh, affordable, and healthy food.

2. Our growing community of producers and consumers can create strong local food systems, reduce use of fossil fuels, and create businesses and jobs.

3. Vibrant local and regional agriculture generates wealth in communities, establishes healthy environments for families, and enhances quality of life for all.

What is Food Security?

Food security exists when all people, at all times, have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. This involves 4 conditions: 1) adequacy of food supply or availability;
2) stability of supply, without fluctuations or shortages from season to season or from year to year; 3) accessibility to food or affordability; and 4) quality and safety of food.(FAO)

Seven Basic Principles of Community Food Security

Community food security represents a comprehensive strategy to address many of the ills affecting our society and environment due to an unsustainable and unjust food system. Following are six basic principles of community food security:

◆ Low Income Food Needs
Food security means that we meet the food needs of low income communities by reducing hunger and improving individual health.

◆ Comprehensive Goals
Food Security addresses a broad range of problems affecting the food system, community development, and the environment such as increasing poverty and hunger, disappearing farmland and family farms, methane gas production from farm animals and food waste, the distance food travels, fairly traded food products, inner city supermarket redlining, rural community disintegration, rampant suburban sprawl, and air and water pollution from unsustainable food production and distribution patterns.

◆ Community focus
Food security means local empowerment and collaboration that seeks to build up the community’s food resources to meet its own needs. These resources may include supermarkets, farmers’ markets, gardens, transportation, community-based food processing ventures, and urban farms to name a few.

◆ Self-reliance/empowerment
Community food security projects emphasize the need to build individuals’ abilities to provide for their food needs. Community food security seeks to build upon community and individual assets, rather than focus on their deficiencies. Food security projects
seek to engage community residents in all phases of project planning, implementation, and evaluation.

◆ Local agriculture
A stable local agricultural base is key to a community responsive food system. Farmers need increased access to markets that pay them a decent wage for their labor, and farmland needs planning protection from suburban development. By building
stronger ties between farmers and consumers, consumers gain a greater knowledge and appreciation for their food source.

◆ Systems-oriented
Food security projects apply a multidisciplinary and holistic approach to all aspects of work, rather than emphasizing individual technologies as has occurred in the past, it crosses many boundaries and incorporates collaborations with multiple agencies.
Using an integrated systems approach to thinking and acting, food security leadership relies on a collaborative approach, engaging the talents of farmers, government policy makers, local non-profit organizations, local communities, chefs, educators,
and the commercial food sector. Food security directs its efforts at four major food system components: production, distribution, education and training, and public policy. The programs designed are pragmatic, with a wide range of options and priorities
defined by farmers and other stakeholders and is a continual learning process, which evolves and adjusts according to the practical knowledge and experience acquired in the field.