We are blessed in the US with a bounty of food and good agricultural land, yet amazingly 1 in 6 Americans face hunger. At the same time, about 40% of all food produced goes to waste. Better systems for growing, distributing and feeding are clearly needed.
In Fayetteville, we are lucky to have several groups working to feed the community through better distribution of current food resources. There are also many community, school and market garden projects happening around the area. Two of my favorite local organizations are Feed Communities and Cobblestone Project. Feed Communities has a broad mission to support more durable food systems, meaning better systems for growing, selling and distributing food in Northwest Arkansas. Their pilot program, Feed Fayetteville, is helping to reduce waste, end hunger and build a stronger, healthier community. Cobblestone Project aims to end community need in Northwest Arkansas by building bridges between those in need and those with resources.
Seeds That Feed is another great local organization. STF collects and distributes surplus food to those in need. The cool part is they found their personal calling while filling a need in the community. They started by showing up at our Fayetteville Farmers Market, talking to people, finding out what was needed, and began collecting excess food harvests to distribute to community members in need. They are seeking to address food waste, food insecurity and misallocation of resources.
Top image from Food is Free at a community food sharing event.
Nationally, Feeding America is working to end food hunger in the United States.
The Farm to School Network is focused on growing food at schools to connect the children to their food directly. The programs supply fresh food to the cafeteria, while teaching kids about growing plants, food and stewardship. Good stuff!
The Food Recovery Network is another great program to reduce food waste at universities. FRN has 95 chapters in 26 states and has recovered over 400,000 pounds of food to date. Chapters work with dining halls and eateries to collect food, divert it to community members in need, and educate the community about food waste. The University of Arkansas is one of the members, and recently diverted about 12,000 lbs of food from a single event!
Here are 23 other great food sharing projects from around the country.
Food is just one aspect of a broader movement to create more resilient communities.
There is a growing awareness of how resiliency can help a community thrive and build systems to handle challenges like natural disasters, food insecurity, homelessness and more.
Groups around the country are organizing to build resilient communities. Locally, Joanna Pollock started a group called Growing Resilient Initiatives Together (GRIT). “We share our ideas, stories and concerns with one another so we can encourage one another and collaborate when it makes sense. Together we create more social cohesion, which also makes us more resilient!”
Deborah Frieze speaks to why we need groups and connections to help us be resilient. “Resilience is the ability to anticipate risk, limit impact, and bounce back rapidly through survival, adaptability, evolution, and growth in the face of turbulent change.”
Explore what your community is doing to address food security, food waste and resiliency. If you don’t find anything, maybe the stories and organizations above can help you get started.