Empowering communities: steps to enhance access to local foods

Small Towns
Farm and Food

Local foods are essential for promoting health, supporting local economies, and fostering community engagement. How can you enhance local food access within your hometown?

As a community member, you have the power to support local foods and work together with others to make them more available. Your efforts support local farmers and provide access to fresh, nutritious foods.

Anyone can make a difference. Explore these initial steps to start the process of engaging with your local food system:

  • Education: Learn about local food infrastructure through workshops, seminars, and online resources. The more you know, the better able you are able to communicate with your community.

  • Networking and collaboration: Build partnerships with local farmers and community organizations to strengthen the local food network.

  • Advocacy and support: Advocate for initiatives that promote access to local foods, such as farmers markets, community gardens, and food recovery programs.

  • Skill development: Participate in training programs on gardening, cooking, food preservation, and sustainable agriculture to develop practical skills for growing, preparing, and sourcing local foods.

  • Community engagement and equity: Play a role in community events, food drives, and volunteer opportunities to support equitable access to local foods for all residents.

Community members work every day to create vibrant, nutritious, and equitable food systems to help their neighbors. In Shenandoah, Iowa, for example, the food pantry is using grant funds to purchase from local farmers, providing fresh fruits and vegetables for their customers and another market for producers. In Atlantic, Iowa, the community has established a Grow Another Row program, which encourages growers to add one more row of vegetables that can be donated to programs addressing food insecurity.

By taking proactive steps, like attending community training events or joining local groups focused on food insecurity and increasing access to local foods, you can help create a sustainable and equitable food system.

Feature photo: By taking proactive steps, like attending community training events, you can help a sustainable and equitable food system. The Southwest Iowa Local Foods Summit is one such event, and will return in fall 2024. |  Photo by Kylie Kai