Planning for Nebraska’s Food Future

By Mark Winne

After over 40 years of food policy work, I find it incomprehensible that in 21st century America the rates of food insecurity and hunger remain so persistently high. Over 13% of Nebraskans may skip meals so their children can eat, or may not know where their next meal is coming from!

Even when people have sufficient means, they may not be able to easily access and buy healthy food. Across Nebraska’s vast rural reaches, too many people drive further and further for their groceries as country stores shut down. Despite all that is going on in our food system, not only is there no plan to address these challenges, there is no plan to make a plan.

Local and state food policy councils are a fast-growing way to fill this void. There are now over 200 food policy councils in the U.S., including 30 operating at the state level. And at 7:00 p.m. on August 18 at the Unitarian Church of Lincoln (6300 A Street), I’ll help lead a discussion about creating a Nebraska Food Policy Council.

I refer to food policy councils as common tables around which food system participants can assess community needs, plan for the future, and put forward recommendations. Without a time and place where we can come together for matters of common concern, we are each left to grub about as best we can in an increasingly threatening world. Better to take control of our future then let it take control of us.

Mark Winne is a food system consultant, author and Senior Advisor at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future.