Food Security strategies to address systemic and environmental change include changing access and availability to favor healthy foods and beverages and include pricing strategies and urban planning-zoning approaches.
These strategies are already being implemented in our community:
Market Bucks or Double Bucks: These programs expand the purchasing power of SNAP $ and provide additional incentives to shop at Farmers Markets and some farm stands and produce markets because often low income folks are more comfortable shopping at these types of markets rather than farmers markets. Learn more at ASAP.
SNAP $ at Farmers' Markets: This evidence-based practice works by implementing mechanisms for SNAP recipients to use their benefits at Farmers' Markets. Specifically in Buncombe County, Buncombe County Health and Human Services worked with farmers’ markets to expand payment options to Food Nutrition Services recipients. Implementing EBT in farmers’ markets started as an initiative of the US Department of Agriculture and has been a successful project in Buncombe County. Expanding the payment option is not only beneficial to EBT recipients; it’s also good for the local economy. Improving the income of local farm vendors ensures that they can continue to reinvest in growing fresh, organic produce and can help them expand their growing capacity. By providing the options for individuals to select local fresh fruits and vegetables, we can reduce health problems and health disparities.
Bountiful Cities Project: Bountiful Cities is an urban agriculture non-profit that partners with community groups to create urban agricultural spaces. They emphasize social justice, access to education, sustainability and economic viability while sharing agricultural skills and resources. Bountiful Cities works towards abundance and food sovereign communities.
Urban Planning & Zoning: The Asheville Buncombe Food Policy Council worked with the City of Asheville to craft and facilitate adoption of a Food Action Plan in 2013 that continues to guide planning and zoning approaches to support food access and sustainability. Policy has been passed to enable Farmers Markets in residential areas and incorporation of edibles native plants into Greenways Plans. Read more here.
YES! (Youth Empowered Solutions): Youth staff have been working locally to provide training and support to enable more convenience stores to transition to Healthy Corner Stores. To date their success includes a single store; however, they have been engaged in advocacy work at the state level around fresh food financing that was instrumental in a policy being passed to enable financing to assist in corner store transition. While the legislation passed in 2015, associated funding did not. (may be in this year's budget)
Financing Fresh Food: Fresh Food Financing Initiative is a state-level policy designed to increase access to affordable, quality, healthful foods in underserved areas by providing critical, one-time loans and grants for the development, expansion or renovation of fresh food retail establishments, such as supermarkets or grocery stores. Eligible communities are defined as low- or moderate-income census tracts, areas of below-average supermarket density, areas with a supermarket customer base where the majority live in a low-income census tract or in other areas demonstrated to have significant access limitations to supermarkets due to travel distance.
Healthy Corner Stores Education and Policy: This intervention is designed to increase the availability, accessibility, awareness and attractiveness of fresh fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods in corner stores by supporting changes in corner stores’ practices. The program addresses multiple levels of the socio-ecologic model with a primary focus on changing the organizational level. The Healthy Corner Store Initiative increases access to fresh fruits and vegetables in corner stores by linking small stores with produce distributors on a year-round basis. The policy established new minimum stock requirements for retail stores authorized for the WIC Program.
Buncombe County Pop-Up Markets and Community Service Navigators: These markets run bi-weekly in the community centers of local housing communities in Buncombe County. They rely on “just-in-time” food donations from MANNA FoodBank which often includes the healthy but perishable fruits, vegetables and bakery items that many local food pantries are not equipped to accept because they require immediate distribution. At each site, neighbors who qualify for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps) come to “shop” for groceries in a colorful, farmers’ market style setting, choosing their food items while catching up with friends and neighbors. View video here.
These strategies have worked in other communities:
Oregon Farm to School/School Garden: Each farm to school and school garden program in Oregon is unique. Designed to increase access to and consumption of locally grown foods. They
also seek to improve knowledge of and attitudes toward eating a variety of locally grown foods
through a) local procurement, b) promotion of local foods and their producers, and c) food,
nutrition, and garden-based educational experiences.
For more information visit the Center for Training and Research Translation or see Food Access Policy and Planning Guide