Community Food Systems

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Growing Food Security in NY Communities


Growing Food Security in New York Communities: 
Understanding Our Food System
A New Extension Initiative 
March 14, 2000


Growing Food Security in New York Communities is a new initiative, designed to develop, support and coordinate community food security (CFS) activities across New York State. This initiative is being developed by a task force in the Division of Nutritional Sciences taking advantage of the Division's cross college linkages. The disciplines housed in the College of Human Ecology and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences represent the diversity of stakeholder interests that need to be brought to bear to achieve community food security.


What is Community Food Security? 

The concept of community food security (CFS) recognizes the interrelationships between food, agriculture, health, and the environment and highlights the need for comprehensive approaches to community food problems. Community food security works toward building environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable food systems that produce culturally acceptable and nutritionally adequate food for all persons to lead healthy productive lives. Unlike efforts to assure individual food needs are met, community food security emphasizes a comprehensive approaches to examining and solving community food problems. So, this might include not only looking at full enrollment in government food programs (s.a. food stamps and WIC), but also developing strong local markets for locally grown, fresh and processed foods·linking consumers and producers.



In January of 1999, USDA Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman announced the Community Food Security Initiative (CFSI) which addresses the short-term needs for decreasing hunger, as well as the longer-term goals of increasing individual and household food security, and building sustainable local food systems. Growing Food Security in New York Communities will help identify community food security activities across in NY State, explore ways to integrate CFS goals into existing programs, and facilitate the development of effective collaborations.


Household and individual food security can be "grown" through building capacities to: 1) command decent wages; 2) more fully exploit available food and economic resources they have available to them; and 3) make more efficient use of a range of resources they have. The long-term goal of building sustainable local food systems can be "grown" by supporting many different, mutually supporting efforts. These include: 1) promoting efforts to build up community food self-reliance through direct marketing such as farmers markets; 2) linking emergency feeding programs with community gardens, gleaning and food recovery projects, and sliding scale price arrangement with community supported agriculture; and 3) promoting the consumption of locally produced and processed foods.


Goals of the Growing Food Security in New York Communities Initiative 

- Capacity within individuals, households and communities that ensures all persons at all times have access to nutritionally adequate food from acceptable non-emergency sources.

- Capacity and infrastructures across New York that foster community-based food systems and promote sustainable agriculture.

Several strategies will be employed to increase food security at the community level across NYS.


Communications. Through a variety of mechanisms (listservs, websites, newsletters):


- Disseminate updates and developments related to the USDA Community Food Security Initiative to county-based nutrition and agriculture educators, policy-makers, related organizations

- Share updates of county-based CFS activities, programs.

- Develop a broadened stakeholder base.

Inservice training and skill building

- Enhance PIE capacity related to CFS

- Professional development in CFS: food system and food security assessment, entreprenuership, fund-raising, and community capacity building.

- Integration of CFS concepts with existing programs and responsibilities

County-level coalition-building and collaboration

- Identify and support local collaborations with potential partners for developing CFS programs (e.g. with WIC, EFNEP, FSNEP, 4-H Youth Development, CED agencies, CAPs, NYSAWG, NY Farms!, NYCNEN, others)

- Strengthen and support involvement of stakeholders, potential partners, program committees, boards in CFS projects. County and campus-based, non-CCE, county and state government

Monitoring Community Food Security Activities.


- Highlight best practices/accomplishments.

- Identify less effective approaches to building CFS, those with low impact, and selectively let go.

Existing Capacity Within CCE and County Associations 

Both on- and off-campus there is considerable activity related to community food security. Expertise exists in the areas of food insecurity measurement at the individual and household level; community food security; sustainable food systems; direct marketing; and regional dietary guidance. 

- At the county level educators respond to local needs related to CFS in a variety of ways on an on-going basis. This new initiative will provide addition support for this important work.

- Within DNS there is longstanding involvement and leadership in programs related to Community Food Security: EFNEP, CBNM, FSNEP, 4-H Youth Development Cornell Food Project, North Country Community Food and Economic Security Project, Sisters in Health, Food Security Measurement, Regional Dietary Guidance, the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program, and others.

- Within CALS there are many programs that contribute to building strong local food systems and community food security. Farming Alternatives Program - direct marketing, farmers market study, small-scale food processing.

- Tom DellaRocco of the Farm Serves Agency and Jennifer Wilkins (Sr. Extension Assoc. in DNS) serve as national liaisons to USDA for Community Food Security. Tom serves as the state contact for gleaning activities.


Resources to Support Growing Food Security in New York Communities


- Materials: Factsheets, Workshop materials, websites

- Grants: Identify funding opportunities at county, state and federal levels. (e.g. the USDA Community Food Projects granting program)

- People: County and campus-based, non-CCE, county and state government.

"Long-term food security depends on strong connections between people in a community - rural and urban and suburban residents; family farmers and inner city dwellers." Community food security has been defined as: "The ability of a community to ensure that all its members have access to safe and healthful foods through local socially acceptable channels, while simultaneously promoting sustainable food and agricultural systems." -- Catherine Woteki.