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Building Local Food Councils to Improve Community Food Security

      Objective

      To bridge the gap between food insecurity and healthy food choices through development of local Food Councils (FCs).

      Target Audience

      Twenty-four rural, high poverty communities in Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and South Dakota.

      Theory, Prior Research, Rationale

      Voices for Food (VFF) is an integrated extension and research-based grant initiative focused on enhancing food security. Research indicates that FCs are good models for increasing community engagement to improve community food system issues of accessibility to nutritious foods and food insecurity. VFF draws on Systems Theory to facilitate engaged dialogue and dynamic community linkages to promote food security, especially among low-income and food insecure populations.

      Description

      VFF was developed by a multi-disciplinary team of experts collaborating on all aspects of the initiative. VFF uses a community-based approach to improve food security through targeted food system and policy changes implemented by local FCs. A VFF Food Council Creation Guide was provided to each community. The guide provides resources and guidance to support FC formation, targeted policy changes, and community engagement.

      Evaluation

      An evaluation plan has been implemented for the VFF project, which includes tested tools for data collection. The first data collection cycle has been completed. A mid-point and post data collection cycle is planned. VFF is collecting data from food council members and community stakeholders, tracking food council activities, trainings and resources provided.

      Conclusions and Implications

      Using the Systems Theory in multiple states provides an avenue to test approaches in a variety of settings, thus determining the strength of a Systems initiative to effect change in widespread implementation efforts. Mid-point and post data collection cycles will offer greater clarification on community outcomes and lessons learned.

      Funding

      NIFA

      Supplementary data