UCCE organizes a community food coalition to improve food sourcing
The IssueShasta and the surrounding region had a disjointed local food system. Twenty percent of Shasta County residents live in poverty and more than a third do not get enough food at home. Paradoxically, 60 percent of adults are overweight or obese. Local consumers are exposed to ubiquitous marketing and availability of fast food. On the other hand, food producers in Shasta County operated in isolation by growing for and marketing to distribution networks that primarily fail to make direct connections with the local consumers, especially low-income populations. Consumers need to know more about healthy food choices, and local production systems need to be better aligned to consumption. In general, the food sourcing system in Shasta and Trinity counties was poorly understood and the losers in the incoherent food system were both the producers and the consumers.
What Has ANR Done?In December 2008, UCCE invited all of the players in the Shasta-Trinity food system to begin meeting on a regular basis to exchange information and discuss ways to get nutritious, economical food distributed in the community. The players were very diverse: farmers, community activists, store owners, government agency leaders, nutrition experts, horticulturalists, college instructors and non-profit community organizations. Initial efforts involved setting up the meetings, inviting potential members, developing the vision, helping the organization grow to self sufficiency, and continuing to mentor by board membership.
The Shasta Cascade Farm and Food Coalition was establishedThe initial convocations resulted in the establishment of the Shasta Cascade Farm and Food Coalition (SCFFC). SCFFC strives to provide healthy, fresh, safe food to everyone in the region by promoting local food production, agricultural land preservation, environmental conservation and consumption of healthy local food. The SCFFC facilitated the creation of the Shasta College Community Teaching Garden, the Shasta School Garden Network, and the Master Gardener’s and the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation's mentoring program for school gardens. Around 40 Shasta schools are part of the school garden network. The SCFFC has a presence at community events promoting local farms, gardens and healthy eating. The coalition, which involves 20 major partners, continues to lead discussions about farm and food community needs, problem resolution, and opportunities to improve and promote all aspects of the healthy community food system. An emphasis is placed upon availability and consumption of fruits and vegetables.
Supporting Unit: ANR Research and Extension CentersConcepcion Mendoza, (530) 224-4900, firstname.lastname@example.org