food insecurity

When Food Stamps Pass As Tickets To Better Health

Rebeca Gonzalez grew up eating artichokes from her grandmother’s farm in the central Mexican state of Tlaxcala. But for years after emigrating to the U.S., she did not feed them to her own kids because the spiky, fibrous vegetables were too expensive on this side of the border.

When she prepared meals at her family’s home in Garden Grove, Calif., Gonzalez would also omit avocados, a staple of Mexican cuisine that is often costly here.

“I saw the prices and I said, ‘No, never mind,’” said Gonzalez, a 47-year-old child care worker who receives about $500 a month in food stamps.

But those items are no longer out of reach for her family. Since enrolling last year in a program that rewards food stamp beneficiaries for buying more fresh produce, Gonzalez has regularly filled her shopping cart with the fruits and vegetables of her childhood — not only avocados and artichokes, but pomegranates, various types of squash and more.

Participation in the program, called “Más Fresco,” or “More Fresh” in English, gives Gonzalez an additional $40 a month to spend on produce, allowing her to broaden the palates of her three U.S.-born children. “The good thing is my family likes to try the new vegetables,” she said. “Now I can buy them because I have the extra money.”

The University of California-San Diego is administering Más Fresco and studying its results with a $3.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has funded similar efforts in other states, including Illinois, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and New Mexico. The dollars invested in those states have been aimed at inducing food stamp recipients to buy more produce at farmers markets or at mobile markets that visit low-income neighborhoods.

Más Fresco is open to Southern Californians in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties who are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP — the official name for food stamp benefits.

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The goal of the four-year program, like that of its counterparts in other states, is to improve diets and overall health by making fresh produce more affordable.

“We know food insecurity and, unfortunately, chronic disease go hand in hand,” said Joe Prickitt, a UC-San Diego dietitian who is senior director of Más Fresco. “For SNAP participants, there’s a real cost barrier to buying fruits and vegetables. They say they’re just too expensive.”

Since Más Fresco began in February 2017, it has enrolled 1,153 participants, who receive an average of $329 a month in food stamps and typically live in households of five or six people. Ninety percent of them are Latinos, but adults from any ethnic background can join provided they are willing to shop at a participating Northgate González Market – an Anaheim, Calif.-based Latino grocery chain that is Más Fresco’s retail partner.

For every dollar worth of food stamps enrollees spend on fresh produce in a given month, they receive a one-to-one match, up to $10, $20 or $40, which they can spend only on more fruits and vegetables. The UC-San Diego researchers who are studying the program varied the maximum reward amounts and assigned them randomly to participants to help determine the optimal dollar level for changing people’s dietary habits.

The six participating Northgate stores — two in each of the three participating counties — use loyalty cards to tally produce purchases and distribute the credits. The amount of credit participants have earned and redeemed is itemized at the bottom of their receipts, and the credit carries over from month to month.

Research has shown that affordability is an obstacle to healthier eating for people of modest means. A 2013 study by researchers at Harvard and Brown universities estimated that a healthful diet costs about $550 a year more per person than an unhealthy one. “For many low-income families, this additional cost represents a genuine barrier to healthier eating,” the authors concluded. “Yet, this daily price difference is trivial in comparison with the lifetime personal and societal financial burdens of diet-related chronic diseases.”

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A 2016 report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture revealed that food stamp recipients spend a smaller percentage of their grocery budgets on fruits and vegetables than other Americans do.

Financial incentives like the ones being tested in California can help narrow that gap.

A 2011 study of an incentive program in Massachusetts found that people on food stamps who got an extra 30 cents for every dollar they spent on fruits and vegetables consumed nearly a quarter-cup, or 26 percent, more fresh produce per day than recipients who did not get such an incentive.

Last week, Más Fresco began to enroll a second round of up to 2,000 people who will receive the incentive for one year. The current participants will continue in the program through June.

Prickitt said he hopes that even after their financial incentives end, participants will retain what they have learned about healthy eating and continue buying produce.

Food policy experts note that many other factors can influence a family’s food choices, including lack of time.

“If parents are working more than one job or children are in more than one school or activity, how do you teach the skills of how you can prepare food, even on a busy weeknight?” said Dean Sidelinger, a pediatrician and child health medical officer for San Diego County.

Some advocates for healthful diets have argued that government should not only encourage people to buy healthier food but also discourage unhealthful habits.

A 2014 Health Affairs study by Stanford University researchers showed that banning the purchase of soda with food stamps would reduce rates of obesity and diabetes, while a credit of 30 cents on the dollar for buying fresh produce alone would not.

In 2017, more than a dozen researchers from different universities urged SNAP to eliminate diet-related health disparities among programs for low-income people. They noted, for example, that the federal food-assistance program known as Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, excluded soda and candy but that people could still buy those products with food stamps.

“There are generations of unhealthy people who are overweight with diabetes and hypertension,” said Jim Floros, president and CEO of the San Diego Food Bank, which has advertised the Más Fresco program to its clients. “That’s completely linked back to a poor diet, which is linked back to poverty.”

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Rebeca Gonzalez, who moved to the U.S. at age 18, decided to overhaul her family’s eating habits after her husband, Javier Landeros, was diagnosed with diabetes two years ago. Instead of buying cookies, she now keeps chopped fruits and veggies in the fridge for snacks.

She said she wants to instill the same healthy habits her grandmother passed on to her.

“I know she gave us good food,” Gonzalez said, “because she lived 105 years.”

National Study of Community Benefit Practices to Promote Healthy Food Access

Health Care Without Harm’s (HCWH) three-year project, Catalyzing Health Care Investment in Healthier Food Systems, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, includes a national study of nonprofit hospitals’ community benefit practices to promote healthy food access and healthier community food environments. The national research informs the development of tools and resources to help facilities address healthy food access and risk of diet-related health conditions in their community health needs assessments (CHNAs) and community benefit implementation strategies.

A national survey of not-for-profit general hospitals throughout the United States assessed the landscape of community benefit programming to increase healthy food access, promote healthy and sustainable food systems, and reduce risk of diet-related health conditions.

Researchers discovered that obesity and diet-related health conditions were among the most common health needs identified in CHNAs. A key finding was that the majority of interventions centered around diet and nutrition education and exercise promotion– and that fewer interventions focused on increasing access to  healthy foods.

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“Alongside the nutrition and exercise information, a lot more can be done to address healthy food access in our communities,” Susan Bridle-Fitzpatrick, PhD, Health Care Without Harm Senior Researcher, said. “Health professionals may educate overweight or diabetic community members to eat five servings of fruit and vegetables per day, but if there are no places to buy affordable fresh produce in the neighborhood, or families are struggling with food insecurity, then these folks will have a difficult time adhering to the recommendations. It is critical to understand the environmental context and how the choices people make depend on the choices they have. People know to eat broccoli and apples–what are the other obstacles keeping people from eating healthier foods? We need to make access to healthy foods both convenient and affordable in our communities.”

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The study involves a national survey of not-for-profit hospitals, analysis of survey respondents’ Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNAs) and implementation strategies, in-depth interviews with key informants, case studies, and a literature review. This report is the first in a series of research reports and other resources that will be released in 2017 and early 2018. These will include a comprehensive research report that will discuss in depth the findings from the survey and other research methods and present recommendations. Also upcoming is a toolkit of guidance resources that will support hospital community benefit professionals and community partners in developing initiatives to promote healthy food access and healthier food environments.

While this project takes a broad look at how hospitals are assessing healthy food access, obesity, and diet-related health needs in their CHNAs and how facilities are addressing these needs in their implementation strategies, the forthcoming resources particularly recommend certain kinds of “win-win-win” opportunities. The toolkit will highlight innovative examples where hospitals employ their community benefit resources to:

  1. improve access to healthy, affordable food and at the same time
  2. support economic and workforce development in low-income communities
  3. strengthen local and sustainable food systems

The project promotes “promising practices” initiatives that include local food producers and processors as part of a multi-pronged effort to increase access to fresh, affordable, and sustainably produced food; promote health equity; and stimulate the local economy—particularly through creating well-paid jobs in low-income communities. These “win-win-win” initiatives support the local food system while working to eliminate health disparities and empower and improve the lives of community residents.

Obesity and Hunger Are Twin Crises

This article was written by Betty Baboujon, food journalist based in Los Angeles. It was originally posted to TakePart in December 2016.

Despite decades of warnings, obesity poses a growing problem worldwide. Once it was thought to afflict just affluent countries, where excess can easily become a way of life. In reality, obesity is a global issue affecting poorer countries on a grand scale. While there has been progress in reducing hunger globally, the next stage doesn’t look too promising.

One-third of the world’s population—more than 2.1 billion people—is obese or overweight, with the majority in developing countries. What’s more, these countries are grappling with what health experts call the “double burden of malnutrition”: undernutrition and overnutrition. So while one part of the population goes hungry, another is obese and overweight, becoming more prone to chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension.

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A study published in October in The Lancet by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation says high body-mass index is the world’s fourth-largest risk factor for disability and death. According to the International Diabetes Federation, developing countries will have the biggest jumps in the number of people with diabetes—globally, it is expected to rise from 415 million in 2015 to 642 million in 2040.

How have obesity and overweight become so common in low- and middle-income countries? In public health–speak, “overnutrition” means eating more calories than the body needs, which leads to extra body fat. But the term is a misnomer. Overnutrition generally isn’t a case of eating too many nutritious foods but those high in everything but nutrients: salt, sugar, fat, and refined carbohydrates that add up to a lot of calories.

“Everyone is eating processed food in developing countries, even children,” says Agnès Guyon, senior nutrition and child health adviser at JSI Research and Training Institute in Washington, D.C. “It is easier to buy a packet of chips than to give fruit.”

Left: Sugar Sweetened Beverage Expenditures                          Right: Fruit and Vegetable Expenditures

This dietary pattern, along with lower levels of physical activity, has resulted in sharp increases in obesity among children, according to the World Health Organization, setting a path for ill health. It’s a trend likely to continue: A World Obesity Federation report in the October issue of Pediatric Obesity forecasts that the childhood obesity rate will climb farther in the coming decade.

Crucially, early or chronic undernutrition is linked with obesity. It begins in childhood, often in the womb: “When a child is undernourished, it does not develop properly. And when a mother is malnourished before or during pregnancy, there is a fetal adaptation where the kidneys are not well developed and the pancreas does not have proper insulin,” explains Guyon, who is also director of JSI’s maternal, neonatal, and child health center. All that conspires to make a person vulnerable to obesity.

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It isn’t unusual for undernutrition and obesity to coexist in the same community or the same household, according to WHO. Or even in the same person. “You can have an obese woman who is malnourished and has anemia,” says Guyon. “She is not getting the right food and macronutrients.”

While urbanization has affected lifestyles—people do less active work, for example—what is available to eat seems to matter more. “The food environment’s role is larger,” says Ashkan Afshin, acting assistant professor of global health at the University of Washington, who collaborated on the IHME study on global disease burden. “Affordability and accessibility of food are main contributors.”

The move toward cash crops over the last half century has also changed the food landscape in developing countries. “We convinced them to do monoculture—cotton, coffee, or cacao, for example—so a lot of people don’t farm subsistence crops anymore, and instead they have to import processed food,” says Guyon. “So now, we are trying to teach them again to cultivate food. I think it’s part of the solution to go back to a better way of eating what is around locally. This is a theory, but in practice it is more difficult.”

Much of what the world eats doesn’t come directly from plants or animals but has gone through food systems that turn it into processed and packaged foods. While many products have been vilified for poor nutrition profiles, processed foods are in demand for many reasons. Not the least of them is food safety—their long shelf life means they can be transported without spoiling and can be stored for longer. Also, they are convenient and affordable: Processed foods are ready to eat (or at least much faster than cooking from scratch) and tend to be cheaper than perishable food.

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To be sure, many processed foods are widely accepted as part of a healthy diet—whole-grain cereals and bread, for example, as well as fruit, vegetables, or legumes that have been canned or frozen. Much of the criticism has been aimed at products that offer low nutritional value, have high quantities of salt and sugar, and are ultra-processed, meaning they include substances not used in normal cooking but that mimic the taste of minimally processed food.

So along with lackluster nutritional quality—inferior to “real food,” as critics say—the quantity of unhealthy processed foods being consumed is problematic for the world’s waistlines and long-term health.

For this reason a vocal critic of processed foods says the practical solution is not to do away with nor heavily tax and regulate them but rather to improve the offending products. Jack Winkler, a former nutrition policy professor at London Metropolitan University, has argued that special diets don’t work and education doesn’t motivate good habits. He says it proves that people are not truly interested in healthy eating. “We must start from the foods they actually eat most of the time, then improve their nutrient profiles,” he wrote in the British Medical Journal.

Afshin says the problems generally have to do with “low intake of healthy food rather than high intake of unhealthy foods, other than sodium.” In other words, it’s more about what people are not eating. What’s often missing are whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and omega-3s, he says.

Improving the quality of processed foods could benefit people in all countries, whatever their income or status. But in the developing world, education is key.

“We always go back to the education and empowerment of women,” says Guyon. Research has shown that in the hands of women, an increase in family income improves children’s health and nutrition, according to the World Food Programme, and that providing women farmers with the same resources as their male counterparts could reduce the number of hungry people in the world by up to 150 million.

“In many countries that suffer from the double burden…most of the focus is on undernutrition because this is more pressing,” says Afshin.

While tackling undernutrition in theory should alleviate the rise of obesity, they remain different problems that require different solutions. Global programs have been addressing hunger for decades, and though they have made inroads, an estimated 795 million people don’t have enough to eat.

Obesity and diabetes, meanwhile, are largely uncharted territory for most of the world. No country—not even a developed one—has succeeded in reducing its obesity rates, according to the landmark 2015 IHME study that found one-third of the world is obese or overweight. “In developing countries, there is not a system to deal with these diseases,” says Guyon. “Every country is facing this complexity.”

It’s particularly vexing for countries with large numbers of hungry people and limited resources. Ensuring that the world has enough to eat is daunting in itself, but will the food we produce sustain us healthily? Consider that the global indicators of food security are primarily starchy foods: wheat, corn, potatoes, rice. “A country might be food secure, but it might not have enough nutritious food,” says Guyon. “The world in general is missing the quality of nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables.”

Member Spotlight: Alleviating Food Insecurity in Rural North Carolina

sandi rice manna

Over the last 5 years, MANNA FoodBank’s food distribution has increased from 7 million pounds annually to now, more than 15 million pounds. With food insecurity increasing across the country, foodbanks like MANNA must continually look for partnerships that help them get “meals on the ground” wherever needed in their 16 county network. In her AmeriCorps Vista position, Sandi Rice was tasked with identifying underserved areas in MANNA’s western North Carolina network. For the next 7 months Rice spent time creating census tract level data maps of children living in poverty and found that the data also correlated with child food insecurity rates. The result is an impressive series of maps that have not only helped MANNA identify underserved areas, but also help inform their decisions on what partners to reach out to in those areas.

Hi Sandi. Thanks for talking with us! Could you start off by telling us a little bit about MANNA FoodBank?

MANNA Food Bank is a non-profit organization that is affiliated with Feeding America, the National Food Bank Association, and MANNA FoodBank, is one of seven food banks in North Carolina. We’re located in Asheville, North Carolina and serve the sixteen western North Carolina counties. Buncombe County, which is where Asheville is, has about 250,000 people and it goes down dramatically after that, as far as counties are concerned. Last fiscal year – so 2014/2015, MANNA provided over 15 million pounds of food to those in need.

We serve approximately 240+ partner agencies in those communities- most of which are food pantries and other food sites, whether it’s a soup kitchen or a senior center that provides assistance to low-income individuals and families.

Can you talk some about food access issues in your region? What populations are most impacted by food insecurity?

Well, in North Carolina, what we’re seeing are people who are at 185% of the poverty level and that in particular, are families with children who qualify for FNS, food stamps, SNAP- also poverty among the elderly, 65+. But rural communities have those living in extreme poverty. We have one entire county, Clay County, where the childhood poverty for the entire county is above 55%.

Is that just due to lack of good employment opportunities, low wages?

Yes. Rural communities in western North Carolina are not industry hubs. There have always been rural farming communities where people were self-sufficient; most were farmers. And it hasn’t changed much in several decades.

So would you say you have seen an increase in food insecurity in the regions MANNA serves or about the same?

MANNA, as far as food insecurity and demand, is like many other agencies serving those who are dealing with food security issues since the call out box 1economic downturn in 2008; things really got difficult for many people in our service area. And there just hasn’t been a pickup among lower income individuals regaining or rebounding as quickly as some others might have. In the last five-seven years, MANNA has doubled its output of food. So we went, in a five-year period, from approximately 7 million pounds of food product distributed to more than 15 million pounds last year.

Can you talk a little bit about your role with MANNA FoodBank and how you’ve used Community Commons to address food insecurity?

I was finishing up my Masters in Public Health and needed an internship and was fortunate because MANNA had an open position for an AmeriCorps Vista position which allowed me to do some capacity improvement work, as well as my capstone project with MANNA. What MANNA
wanted to see was where were the areas of need across the 16 county- network that were underserved or not served by the MANNA network. So, that was the beginning of me working on capacity improvement and my capstone project and was able to do so using Community Commons. The data that you guys provide, along with statistical programs, brought several key areas of need to light.

In school, I was able to do something really incredible for MANNA FoodBank. I was able to correlate childhood food insecurity and childhood poverty numbers for our network so that we could drill down from the county level for the 16 counties we serve. Now MANNA has a tool that allows them to look at census tract level data in each of the county’s service areas, and make more informed decisions about resource allocations.

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Explore the service area data maps in more detail by clicking the image.

That’s wonderful! Sounds like you’ve really been able to maximize the potential of Community Commons’ tools.

It’s huge because here in Buncombe County, the childhood poverty rate is approximately 25%. But when you start drilling down into the census tract data, looking at the poverty level you get an entirely different picture. Those numbers are correlated; the poverty level will correlate with childhood food insecurity level. So in my neighborhood, which is a fairly middle class, working class, mixed neighborhood, the childhood poverty rate is 74%. You look at that and you go ‘oh wow.’ The childhood food insecurity rate for Buncombe County is 24.9% but if you use that corollary data, you know it’s much different.

Has this had any impact on how MANNA identifies and connects with partners?

What MANNA is now doing with my research- and much to the great credit of Community Commons- is we are able to pull up maps of our entire 16 call out box 2county network and chart underserved areas where we don’t have a current partner or where there’s not enough service provided in low income areas.

There was one county, that we thought things were pretty good and it turned out that there were areas where childhood poverty that was over 95 percent. It just showed the organization that there was a whole section where there were no MANNA network partners serving that community. So of course that begins to immediately make MANNA start reaching out to try to form new partnerships in that area. It is a higher priority right now.

We actually shared some of what I was able to do and access in Community Commons with the other 6 food banks, just to let them know what capability is out there.

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What would you say the main strength of using Community Commons is?

For me, as a non-computer person, I was going to try to teach myself GIS through ARC or something like that and that just wasn’t happening for me. I’m a nontraditional student in that I am 51 years old and I am not writing a code in any way, shape, or form. So being able to use Community Commons was so applicable and so common sense that it was just easy to go and pull those statistical maps and go ‘oh look at that’ and you know here’s the tools for mapping, making sure we get to map the 16 counties in the agency network. It was user-friendly. A lot of it you could get down to that tract level data for poverty, which was important for me for my correlation. So, for me, Community Commons was just a beautiful tool that I could not have done my research without.

Sounds like you’ve definitely done some incredible things with it so far.

I hope to do more, I really do. I want to do more for the agency. Right now, I’m working for them in call out box 4a contract position doing something entirely different but people keep coming back to me saying, “Hey listen, we’re writing this grant…” The agency has really been excited about this capability, especially our resource development department. They’re very happy with the imagery that Community Commons is able to produce. You see one of your maps in full color, it’s sobering when you look at it and you’ve got the statistical data behind it to know that those are areas where children are going without. It’s just so beautifully, even sadly, but a wonderful tool.

One of the things that I’m hearing is that this has really increased your understanding of the community. Has it increased your efficiency or has it changed how you actually implement any of your programming?

As an agency, we have been going through a capital campaign-building project so we’re moving into new space. There hasn’t been an incredible amount of time to look at how to best utilize the information that we have gained and gathered and put together. But I know for one instance it was able to identify an area where there was a great need and the agency went out to look for a partner to be able to help address some of that need in that community for the children.

I am very interested in that correlation data that you guys calculated out because I think there are other youth cases that might benefit from that.

What I would love to see and I’m thinking about it from the Food Bank standpoint, but I sure would love if more food banks would be able to work with graduate schools to be able to do this kind of statistical analysis. To be able to pinpoint areas within county levels and state levels, to be able to drill down and see what local level data looks like and direct those that need numbers.

I am going to be presenting at a public health conference in the fall and one of the topics for the conference is innovation and public health and how you use innovative techniques in public health to find public health needs and I was asked to present my research. I would love to see more people utilizing this kind of data on a regular basis because it just makes sense.

It was so funny because last fall I was trying to find the best way to map the data that we needed and I was beating my head against the wall and one of the staff here just happened to mention Community Commons after a workshop. She said something about maps and gave me the website for Community Commons, and that’s how I got your website, and when I did it was like the choir began to sing. It required some effort to plot specific points on the maps, but it was a 99% satisfaction on my part by being able to use it as effectively as we have and moving forward as an agency, having people’s interest and being able, instead of an Excel spreadsheet. Being able to do the mapping, it’s much more of an effective tool.

What’s great is that you’ve created a framework other food banks and community organizations can learn from. What’s the most significant impact your research and the tools have had on the work MANNA does?

MANNA FoodBank now has access to areas that they didn’t know about- where the need is great and that correlates; I mean that literally turns into meals on the ground. That means children are getting fed that might not have had access to food before someone used the data and intervened. call out box 3That’s huge! Being able to show someone, here is where your agency is located and this is the area around it, 86% of the children here are living in poverty and food insecure. And someone said, “Well I knew it was bad but I didn’t have a clue it was that bad, we have to work harder.” It’s that anecdotal kind of feedback we’ve gotten just in the last couple months.

What I would love to see in Buncombe County is more people working together with technology, like Community Commons, to really address those core issues, those underlying issues. Hunger is a symptom of a greater issue, which is poverty.

Over the course of a few weeks to a few months, we will have new partnerships that will literally mean children are being fed. I cannot think of any greater compliment to give your group than to say, “Because Community Commons exists, children are being fed in Western North Carolina that weren’t being fed previously”. So, thank you.

Beyond the Food Desert

Why We Can’t Get Healthy Foods in Poor Communities

California’s Public Policy Institute published a study in March revealing that not only do poor neighborhoods contain more fast-food restaurants and corner stores than affluent ones, these communities hold nearly twice as many supermarkets per square mile as wealthier locales. Could it be that everything we’ve ever assumed about food justice is wrong? read more

 

Will Allen Grows A Million Pounds of Food

Will Allen, son of a sharecropper, former professional basketball player, ex-corporate sales leader and now farmer, has become recognized as among the preeminent thinkers of our time on agriculture and food policy. The founder and CEO of Growing Power Inc., a farm and community food center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Will is widely considered the leading authority in the expanding field of urban agriculture. read more and see videos

Feed the Future Research Series Part I: Sustainable Food Security

Feed the Future strategies for food security are designed not only to accelerate agriculture-led growth and reduce undernutrition, but also to encourage sustainable and equitable management of land, water, fisheries, and other resources. Feed the Future Intern Christopher Chapman asked soil fertility and conservation agriculture expert Michael Mulvaney to tell us more about the importance of sustainable agriculture. read more


Obesity Prevention Advocates Hail Illinois Fresh Food Fund

CHICAGO, July 30, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Members of the Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity hailed the establishment of the Illinois Fresh Food Fund on Monday.

The newly created fund was announced by Governor Pat Quinn, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), and IFF.  The Illinois Fresh Food Fund will finance the creation of full-service grocery stores and, on a case-by-case basis, other retail models that will increase the availability of fresh food in low-access areas.  More…

Australians are ‘food illiterate’

Australians lack “food literacy” and are unaware of growing threats to national food production, according to new research.

A national survey conducted by the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance found 60 per had not heard of the term “food security” and did not know what it meant. It also found 65 per cent were not worried about the future of Australia’s food supplies over the next 50 years, despite multiple threats posed by climate change, coal-seam gas exploration, increasing soil salinity and loss of farmland to urban sprawl. More…

Grow your own: making Australian cities more food-secure

Food security has typically been framed as an issue of global concern, concentrated within developing countries. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation defines food security in terms of the availability of food sufficient to meet the needs of all people at all times, and while this conception acknowledges that people must have the wherewithal to meet their own needs, it can lead to a preoccupation with the gross volume of food produced, at the expense of questions of distribution and adequacy. More..