Community Food Security Strategies – Next Steps
Community Food Security
Charles J. Zwick Center for Food and Resource Policy
1376 Storrs Rd, Unit 4021
Storrs, Ct 06269-4021
Phone: (860) 486-2836
Fax: (860) 486-1932
If you are reading this report, then you are probably wondering if there are any strategies or best practices to strengthen your own community's food security. Although there are numerous innovative models and approaches, each community must first embark on its own process of evaluation, dialogue, and planning to arrive at a community-based strategy to improve access and availability of food.
Community-focused strategies should be highly engaging and participatory, including municipal officials, non-profits, private businesses, and residents. An important tool to consider is a Community Food Assessment, which serves as a mechanism to foster a community planning process and respond to community food security needs (see resources on next page).
In reality, communities have little control over where or how food is produced, sold, priced, prepared or consumed. While many municipalities may be concerned about food waste, food is rarely high on the agenda of most town planners, economic development commissions, civic or environmental groups. Anti-hunger organizations play an important role in meeting the short-term needs of food insecure residents, but readily acknowledge their work does not alter underlying socioeconomic challenges. On the other hand, the public's growing interest in safe and healthy food is fertile ground for creative and dynamic leaders as well as considerable local energy focused on the goals of community food security. In recent years there have been many groups in CT that are concerned with food and/or agriculture related issues (food policy councils, town agriculture commissions, farmers market associations, school wellness committees, and community kitchen advocates) who aim to promote healthy, fresh, local food and support viable agriculture. These types of organizations can help form a backbone to community food security strategies.
Community food security strategies tend to focus less on emergency food access and more on availability of affordable and healthy food that will meet long-term needs. Some examples of community food security strategies are:
- Creating incentives for a new neighborhood retail food store
- Encouraging the use of abandoned structures and brownfields for the construction of food hubs, food processing centers, or urban agriculture enterprises
- Adding bus transportation to public food assistance agency offices
- Creating better meal options in school cafeterias to address child obesity
- Offering community garden plots and gardening assistance so residents can grow their own food
- Launching a new farmers market to bring local farm products closer to residents
- Creating a composting program to reduce food waste and provide affordable soil amendments for gardening purposes
The USDA published the Community Food Assessment Toolkit, which provides a series of standardized measurement tools for assessing food security within a community. It includes a general guide to community assessment and focused materials for examining six basic assessment components related to community food security. These include guides for profiling general community characteristics and community food resources as well as materials for assessing household food security, food resource accessibility, food availability and affordability, and community food production resources. Available at:
The Food Security Learning Center with World Hunger Year is an advocate for innovative, community based solutions to hunger and poverty. The Center provides information on community food security strategies such as CFAs and community supported agriculture program assessments (CSAs), community gardens, Food Policy Councils, and land use planning. Available at: http://www.whyhunger.org/fslc
The Community Food Security Coalition has a number of publications regarding community security strategies, programs, and assessments that can be downloaded for free. Available at http://www.foodsecurity.org/publications/
The following publications in particular may be of use:
- What's Cooking in Your Food System? A Guide to Community Food Assessment
- Whole Measures for Community Food Systems: Stories from the Field.
- Good Laws, Good Food: Putting Local Food Policy to Work for Our Communities
The Community Food Security Coalition also maintains a website clearing house for food assessment-related tools and resources, including reports and information from numerous past and current assessments. Available at: http://www.foodsecurity.org/cfa_home.html