Community Food

Food is a central part of all of our lives. Where our food comes from matters - for our health, for the vitality of our communities, for our wallets, and for the environment.

We work with rural communities to build healthy, sustainable, local food systems. Our goal is to create food production and distribution systems that provide affordable fresh food for all, protect the environment, and keep money circulating in the local economy.

Community food systems take many forms, but they all have the same purpose: to connect the local people who grow and make food with the local people who eat it. At the Center for Rural Affairs, we work on several different ways to connect farmers and consumers. 

Community Food Notes


Growing Healthy Food Systems

This issue brief anchors a project to create a food policy council for Nebraska. It is intended to get you thinking about the opportunities and challenges to be faced in developing food policy councils. The data is Nebraska-specific, but you can use the structure and ideas to tackle the same quest in your location.

Good food policy and effective coordination between our food system’s stakeholders will produce strong farms, a resilient food economy, and a healthy future for all residents - whether in Nebraska or your location. Together, we can build a better food system. 

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Sioux Chef Recipes from the Santee Garden and Market Project

Featuring simple cooking with fresh, seasonal ingredients from your garden or farmers market!

Sioux Chef was a crowd-funded project to bring fresh food cooking back to Santee. In 2012, fresh foods were barely available in Santee. New gardens and farmers markets began to change that. These recipes from the Sioux Chef project made newly available fresh foods accessible and useful with simple, tasty, fresh food recipes for all.

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Attracting Pollinators with a Pollinator Garden

Pollinators are insects and animals that transport pollen from plant to plant to fertilize the plant so it produces fruit or seeds. There are more than 1.000 different plants grown for spices, foods, beverages, and medicine that are dependent on pollinators. In fact, in the US alone, pollinators account for more than $40 billion worth of products annually.

Good News for Kids, Farmers, & Small Towns

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) along with Representative Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Representative Marcia Fudge (D-OH) have taken the lead in introducing the Farm to School Act of 2015, a bill that will expand the highly successful USDA Farm to School Grant Program. The bill increases children’s access to fresh foods in schools, supports family farmers, and helps to build strong local food economies. With support from more members of Congress hopefully this will become part of the Child Nutrition Act reauthorization later this year.

Rain Barrels: An Ancient Tool to Meet Today’s Needs

If you’ve been paying attention to the Center for Rural Affairs’ work with Native American communities, you know a grassroots movement for food sovereignty is underway.

Garden workshops in Macy and Santee are facilitating a garden revival via farmers markets. Programs at the Nebraska Indian Community College campuses introduce students to growing food. And innovative efforts like the Unci Maka (Grandmother Earth) Public Market are putting tribal food traditions back on the table.