Written collaboratively by: Suzanne Stluka, former SDSU Extension Food & Families Program Director, Lindsay Moore, former SDSU Extension Family and Community Health Field Specialist, and Becky Henne, Associate Program Leader-SNAP-Ed Coordinator, Michigan State University Extension, Dan Remley, Associate Professor, Field Specialist, Ohio State University Extension
Promoting Health and Food Security
The overarching goal of this project is to facilitate engaged dialogue and dynamic linkages or voices for food by promoting health and food security within the food system, especially among low-income and food insecure populations. Each community is comprised of diverse sectors and a food system that offers unique strengths and challenges that can affect its residents’ food security. Some of these challenges include a lack of planning between food system sectors and food insecurity being poorly understood throughout the sectors of the community. Working to bridge between these sectors (food system and community) will strengthen the voices of the community as a whole and promote food security.
According to the USDA, food security means access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life (USDA, 2013).
The Voices for Food project found that engaging a community coach, a person that supported the community in identifying, achieving, and celebrating their own unique goals, showed greater impact. For this project the community coaches were Land Grant University Cooperative Extension staff.
The Voices for Food materials - The Food Council Creation Guide and the Food Pantry Toolkit will equip communities with tools to provide education and support in the areas of food systems, food councils, collaboration, nutrition, meal preparation, food safety, resource management, guided client-choice pantries, and cultural competency. These tools are meant to improve individual and household food security through community engagement and the use of MyChoice practices in local food pantries. Using these tools and training opportunities will help ensure that strong relationships and “voices for food” are in place to build positive and sustainably healthy communities.