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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Making Nebraska’s food system more resilient in the face of an uncertain climate

Ask anyone if they’ve noticed weather patterns becoming increasingly erratic over the last 20 years and the answer is usually a resounding “yes!”

Extreme precipitation events, prolonged periods of drought, and scorching summer temperatures are all on the rise in the United States and worldwide. In the Great Plains region, droughts, floods and rising temperatures are already cutting crop yields. These erratic weather patterns are projected to reduce agricultural yields and livestock productivity even further as we move into the next 40 years.

Gardens keep Santee Sioux traditions alive

About two hours west of Sioux City, Iowa, we dropped by the Santee Sioux Reservation to tag along with LeAnn Red Owl while she visits gardens throughout the community.

In the summer of 2016, LeAnn was one of the Center for Rural Affairs community food specialists who worked alongside members of the Santee Sioux and Omaha Tribes to improve access to fresh, nutritious food grown in their own communities, often in their own backyards.

Celebrate National Farm to School Month in October

Sadly, many school aged children do not know where their food comes from. In fact neither do many adults. According to a survey commissioned by the U.S Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, 72% of consumers know nothing or very little about farming or ranching.
But Farm to School Programs are trying to change that. Thirty million kids eat school lunch every day. More than 42,000 schools participate nationwide in Farm to School initiatives reaching an estimated 23.6 million children.