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

 

Greenhouse to Cafeteria

Center for Rural Affairs launched the Greenhouse to Cafeteria program in 2015 after finding that many schools in Nebraska had greenhouses, but only used those greenhouses for starting perennials or growing holiday plants. Some were even empty - a missed opportunity for Nebraska’s kids.

The program assists schools in teaching valuable lessons as the kids to start, tend, and harvest plants. Greenhouses transform into edible organic gardens that provide food for the school cafeteria, educate students about where food comes from, and teach entrepreneurial skills.

File attachments: 

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. 

File attachments: 

Bringing healthy, sustainable eating to rural areas

Sustainable and healthy eating is a challenge for many people, especially those in rural areas. However, some people may think the opposite.

Recently, Center for Rural Affairs community food specialists April Goettle and Suzi French were guests on Totally Rural, a podcast hosted by Daisy Dyer Duerr.

April and Suzi work alongside members of the Santee and Omaha Reservations with a focus on their local food systems. Both are located in northeast Nebraska, and the projects are managed in conjunction with Nebraska Indian Community College (NICC).

Students and educators benefit from growing food

In the last 20 years, small schools facing budget cuts often removed elective classes. This left skills like cooking and growing fruits and vegetables unlearned.

Center for Rural Affairs’ Greenhouse to Cafeteria program has been a solution for schools that have faced those decisions in the past. Not only does it fill a hole left in the curriculum, it also means healthier foods are served at lunch.