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

 

Biting Into Food Access: A View of Nebraska’s Food System

In Nebraska, more than $4.4 billion is spent annually on food and 90 percent of that comes from outside of the state. Nebraska’s food system is reliant on other areas of the country, the strength of their food systems and local economies, and the availability of their natural resources to feed its population. 

By addressing key issues in food, farm, small business, and community-level and institutional policy, there is potential to identify strengths, changes needed, and gaps in the food system. Good food policy and effective coordination between food system stakeholders will produce strong farms, open new or existing markets that are difficult to access, cultivate a resilient food economy, and preserve a healthy future for all Nebraskans. 

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Digging in: Supporting a healthy, sustainable food future in Omaha Nation

This report documents the current state of the food system on the Omaha Reservation and identifies strategies and areas of consideration to enable the Omaha people and their neighbors to move toward realizing self-reliance of their food system. As part of the Omaha Nation Food System Initiative, the Center for Rural Affairs, alongside the advisory committee, interviewed and surveyed those living on the Reservation. Data was gathered on the current state of their food system in an effort to build a community-wide understanding of the impacts of this food system on the community.

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Biting into food access

By addressing key issues in food, farm, small business, and community-level and institutional policy, there is potential to identify strengths, changes needed, and gaps in the food system.

Good food policy and effective coordination between food system stakeholders will produce strong farms, open new or existing markets that are difficult to access, cultivate a resilient food economy, and preserve a healthy future for all rural Americans.

Biting into food access

In Nebraska, more than $4.4 billion is spent annually on food, and 90 percent of that food comes from outside of the state.

When we spend food dollars outside of the state, that weakens our local economy and limits local access points. We rely on other areas of the country, the strength of their food systems and local economies, and the availability of their natural resources to provide us with food. The idea that we are “feeding the world” ignores the unsustainability of our current food system.

5 steps to help small town grocery stores

Grocery stores are a staple on rural main streets across the country. They provide fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, staple food items, and even cleaning supplies, toiletries, and over-the-counter medicine.

We’ve heard from a few communities who are seeking solutions on keeping their grocery stores vibrant. So, here are some steps to start the conversation.

1. Get folks together in a community meeting. Make sure everyone has a say and feels included. If people have invested time, money, and energy into a project, they will want it to succeed.