Nourishing Networks: West Virginia Community Food Security Assessment (WV CFSA) identifies the various community strategies to improve food access for low-income communities in West Virginia. Over the course of the project we interviewed more than two hundred key informants and surveyed thousands of commercial food retailers, public food assistance programs, anti-hunger charities and emergent alternative food networks. Our objective is to use social science research to foster a more expansive discussion of the opportunities for enhancing community food security, to communicate various forms of knowledge about disparities in the food system, and to create user friendly tools like interactive maps and county-level profiles to consolidate different data and analysis about barriers to food access and strategies to improve access in West Virginia. Rather than a focus on a single actor or institution, or a single method or tool, our study seeks to cross-pollinate our collective understanding of community food security through a diverse analysis of state, market, charitable and other community-based initiatives. While these initiatives are often treated separately, it is our hope that by bringing them into conversation, we can promote greater understanding and collaboration across coalitions of vulnerable families, anti-hunger advocates, local food advocates, and policymakers. Our intended outcome with the WV CFSA is to provide vital research assistance to emergent coalitions at the local, regional and state scale that enables these groups to effectively speak across their differences, to jointly assess food access problems, and to continue to collectively develop community food strategies that promote a more inclusive and just food system.
Bradley Wilson is the director of WVFoodlink, and heads the Food Justice Laboratory in the Department of Geology and Geography at West Virginia University. Josh Lohnes is the associate director of WVFoodlink and a research assistant in the Food Justice Laboratory. Zachary Summerfield is responsible for the Nourishing Networks portal, and will be continuing his work with WV Foodlink as an Americorps Vista. Cheryl Brown is an associate professor in Agricultural and Resource Economics at WVU and co-project director of the Appalachian Foodshed Project.
In Western North Carolina (WNC), the Appalachian Foodshed Project was designed to engage organizational leaders working within the community food system to create a common agenda to better understand and address food security in the 27-county region. This WNC Food Security Advisory Committee, in collaboration with a research team from North Carolina State University, designed a community food security assessment (CFSA) to systematically examine community food issues and assets to inform actions that make the region more food secure.
The purpose of the Western North Carolina Community Food Security Assessment (pdf) is to establish the scope of the problem, identify extant barriers to and assets for improving food security, and clarify key questions for communities to consider as they make long-term strides to creating a more just and equitable food system. To accomplish these goals, the WNC Food Security Advisory Committee designed the assessment with two key components that together aid understandings of food security in the region: 1. Quantitative data were gathered to systematically define the scope of the problem and provide baseline data about the food system in all of WNC. 2. Qualitative data from three representative counties (Buncombe, Mitchell, and Yancey) were collected to provide an in-depth account of key challenges and questions related to healthy food access and food security from a community perspective. This webinar focused on the qualitative findings from the research, identifying barriers to and opportunities for improved food security in Western North Carolina.
John Eshleman is the lead author of the assessment, and is a post-doctoral research associate at NC State University with the Appalachian Foodshed Project.
The Southwest Virginia Community Food Security Assessment (pdf) was conducted as a partnership between the Appalachian Foodshed Project (AFP) and the Appalachian Virginia Food Systems Network (AVFSN). The goal of the assessment is to support the on-going work of southwest Virginia community food security practitioners and community partners.
In this webinar, Phil D'Adamo-Damery (Virginia Tech, Appalachian Foodshed Project), Kelli Scott (Montgomery County VCE, Appalachian Virginia Food Systems Network), Jerry Moles (Grayson Landcare), and Kim Niewolny (Virginia Tech, Department of Agricultural, Leadership, & Community Education) disscuss the assessment findings and next steps for food systems work in southwest Virginia.
One of the Appalachian Foodshed Project’s aims is to help build community capacity across the region. This work is being addressed in a number of ways. In spring 2013, an initiative was launched to create and share stories that illustrate the lived experiences of activists, educators, farmers, and community professionals in our region. The stories touch on the creation of a number of projects and processes that support the work, including a CSA-food pantry partnership, the establishment of new food hubs, the impact of school and community gardens, the development of novel ideas and structures for food system organizing and networking. In this way, these stories express the diverse experiences of people working for food systems change, and include the voices of practitioners from across western North Carolina, southwest Virginia, and West Virginia. In another way, the narratives are a personal testament to the triumphs and challenges of what we are referring to as “community food work” in the region. They are meant to be spaces for learning for all who read them, and the extent of their use and meaning go as far as our imaginations can take them. (Check out our recent blog post on the narratives.)
In this webinar, Kim Niewolny, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist in the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, & Community Education at Virginia Tech, spoke about this exciting work, the methods used to create the narratives, the people—including graduate students—involved in this process. The presentation explores the significance of using story in making space for creativity, transformation, and hope as we work toward community food security and more.
Appalachian Foodshed Project graduate course
Course syllabus (pdf)
Additional course documents are available upon request from Kim Niewolny.
One objective of the tri-state Appalachian Foodshed Project has been to create and offer graduate-level coursework focusing on conceptual and programmatic approaches to addressing community food security within the emerging discourse of food systems. In spring 2015, Virginia Tech offered “Food Security & Resilient Communities,” with an emphasis on community food security, food sovereignty, resiliency, and agricultural sustainability from local, regional, and international perspectives. This course was developed as an interdisciplinary, student-faculty-community research initiative between Virginia Tech and North Carolina State University. In this webinar, Kim Niewolny (Virginia Tech), Becca Landis (Virginia Tech) and Michelle Schroeder-Moreno (North Carolina State University) discussed the development process of the course, and described its specific goals, content, participatory design, and student experiences working directly with community food system practitioners involved in the Appalachian Foodshed Project.
WVFOODLINK is a project of the Food Justice Lab at West Virginia University and the Appalachian Foodshed Project. Launched in 2014, WVFOODLINK has two objectives. First, our research team collects, inventories, and visualizes information on charitable, state and alternative food resources for low-income households. Second, we support community-based organizations, advocacy networks and coalitions in a shared analysis of community food security with the goal of promoting dialogues about diverse economies and alternative food strategies that benefit low-income households. In this webinar Dr. Bradley Wilson, Assistant Professor of Geography and Director of the Food Justice Lab at WVU, describes WVFOODLINK's vision for action-research and reflects on the value of participatory mapping practices in the promotion of community food dialogues.
Carmen Procida, youth staff member at
Youth Empowered Solutions (YES!) partnered with Diana
Manee, Program Coordinator with YES!, to share the basics of how
and why to involve youth in sustainable change work. Carmen also
talked about successes from her team's
healthy corner stores work and introduced the YES! Corner
Store Redesign Toolkit so that you and the youth in your
communitycan get started on redesign work!
Carmen Procida, youth staff member at Youth Empowered Solutions (YES!) partnered with Diana Manee, Program Coordinator with YES!, to share the basics of how and why to involve youth in sustainable change work. Carmen also talked about successes from her team's healthy corner stores work and introduced the YES! Corner Store Redesign Toolkit so that you and the youth in your communitycan get started on redesign work!
The AFP is excited to
support this work through its
Community Enhancement Grant program.
The AFP is excited to support this work through its Community Enhancement Grant program.
Food Councils and other networks are coming together because people envision
profound positive changes and food systems operate on a massive scale. We know
we need to align our efforts, and the question always arises about how to govern
our collective efforts in ways that are inclusive and efficient. Even more
complex is how to govern networks of networks, like county-level food councils
aligning into regional or statewide councils. This webinar describes the
open framework that is being tested in Central Appalachia to link local, state,
and regional networks addressing food security, including people who experience
food insecurity. For food system networks in Central Appalachia, it is an
invitation to take this experiment to the next level.
Tracy Kunkler, MSW, is principal at Social Profit Strategies, a social enterprise serving organizations and networks that contribute to a world of resiliency and prosperity for all.
Electronic benefit transfer (EBT) systems at farmers markets allow for the acceptance of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps) benefits at farmers markets, increasing access for low-income populations. While the number of EBT systems at markets is increasing across the state of Virginia, these programs are complex and require an in-depth application process, marketing, financial oversight and evaluation on the part of farmers market managers. Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Family Nutrition Program (FNP) has developed a Farmers Market Manager Toolkit (launching soon) to assist farmers market managers in launching, running, assessing, and evaluating their program. Join Meredith Ledlie Johnson, MSW and Sarah Misyak, PhD from FNP to learn about the available resources and the development process for the Toolkit.
Learn about the Local Food Cost Calculator , a free and downloadable electronic spreadsheet that enables food buyers to calculate the true cost of using local food! There are two versions of the calculator: one designed for college and university dining services and another for restaurants.
Visit www.ruralscale.com to find the calculator and the details of study.
This dynamic webinar includes:
Anthony Flaccavento has 30 years of hands-on experience in sustainable community development. He has been a certified organic produce farmer for the past 15 years during which time he also founded and directed Appalachian Sustainable Development. Anthony is also the author of “Healthy Food Systems: A Tool Kit for building Value Chains” and over 100 published articles.
A key component to healthy communities is access to safe, nutritious and affordable food for all citizens. Yet, almost one in six Iowans is food insecure. To build on Iowa’s assets and to increase Iowans’ access to healthy, fresh, local produce, the Iowa Food Systems Council launched Cultivate Iowa. Cultivate Iowa is a social marketing campaign that encourages 1) low-resource Iowans to engage in food gardening, and 2) other gardeners to plant and/or pick extra produce to donate to a food bank or pantry in their community. To develop this campaign, qualitative data were collected from organizational stakeholders, such as food pantry and food assistance staff, and surveys were conducted with low-income Iowans and current gardeners. Data were used to develop messages and strategies to promote garden produce access among low-income Iowans. The campaign launched in spring of 2013, and and implemented state-wide by a network of food system partners. This presentation provides an overview of the development and implementation of Cultivate Iowa, and how social marketing can be used to enhance health in rural communities. Presented by Elizabeth Danforth Richey, Co-convener for the Iowa Food Systems Council's Food Access and Health Work Group.
Aubrey Alvarez (Director - Eat Greater Des Moines) presented three examples of Networks for Action: the Iowa Food Systems Council Food Access and Health Working Group (FAHWG), the Regional Food Systems Working Groups (RFSWG), and Eat Greater Des Moines. Learn more about how each of these groups function, and how they create and support action for food systems change at the local, regional, and state level.
Resources and links from this presentation:
FAHWG Voter Guide: http://iowafoodsystemscouncil.org/food-access-health
Cultivating Resilience: http://iowafoodsystemscouncil.org/cultivating-resilience
Steven Hodges and Margaret Smith (Appalachian Foodshed Project, Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences at Virginia Tech) told the story of how a community uses system dynamics modeling to better understand its food system. They explained how people, land, farms, markets, institutions, consumers, policy, and food come together around a shared mental model of the local food system. The model, developed in a visual format, took simple inputs and transformed them to show how the food system behaves over time. Using various scenarios, the model can become a learning environment for the purpose of enhancing community food security.
Christy Shi and Teisha Wymore (The Community Food Strategies Project and Center for Environmental Farming Systems) shared learning and successes from their work developing food policy councils across North Carolina. They led a great discussion of what it takes to make food councils take root and flourish!
Michelle Kaiser, PhD, MSW, MPH shared her approach to measuring community food security, and why she sought to move beyond household and individual level sociodemographic information (which are largely unchangeable) in her research. Her methodology includes "food environment" variables that can be targeted for practice and policy level interventions. This includes looking at food access, use of food programs, agriculture production, food program usage, direct farm sales, availability of different food markets, and affordability. She shared how the findings can be used at the community-level to specifically target vulnerabilities in the food environment for interventions that are more likely to impact community food security. She also highlighted community efforts that are protecting communities that may serve as examples to others.
Jeanette Abi-Nader gave an excellent introduction to the Whole Measures for Community Food Systems (WM CFS)! Developed by the Community Food Security Coalition, WM CFS is a planning and evaluation tool for addressing community food security from a whole system, value-based perspective. Jeanette gave and overview of the core fields of WM CFS, shared stories of how organizations have used the process, and explored how value-based evaluation contributes to the overall review of impact.
Here are some links and resources from Jeanette's presentation:
The Center for Whole Communities Whole Measures Toolkit http://measuresofhealth.net. This is the "original" Whole Measures that Jeanette referenced in her presentation. The toolkit served as the bases for WM CFS, but has 10 measures (instead of the 6 found in WM CFS) and is heavily focused on conservation.
Whole Measures for Community Food Systems: Stories from the Field http://www.wholecommunities.org/pdf/WholeMeasuresStories copy 2.pdf. This document contains examples of how the WM CFS tool has been used in project planning, community planning, strategic planning, and project evaluation.
Community Food Projects Indicators of Success
FY11 Report (pdf) and
Executive Summary (pdf) . To assess the
collective impacts of the USDA Community Food Projects,
the Community Food Projects Indicators of Success (IOS)
was developed to track and monitor outcomes from the
various Community Food Projects. Community Food Security
Coalition administered the assesment as part of their
Training and Capacity Building CFP grant. When combined
with the USDA's annual reporting system, the data from
IOS demonstrated the combined impact of Community Food
Projects towards increasing community food security
across the country. FY 2011 marked the 7th year of
IOS data collection.
. To assess the collective impacts of the USDA Community Food Projects, the Community Food Projects Indicators of Success (IOS) was developed to track and monitor outcomes from the various Community Food Projects. Community Food Security Coalition administered the assesment as part of their Training and Capacity Building CFP grant. When combined with the USDA's annual reporting system, the data from IOS demonstrated the combined impact of Community Food Projects towards increasing community food security across the country. FY 2011 marked the 7th year of IOS data collection.
For more information on the Whole Measures for
Community Food Systems and this presentation, please contact
Jeanette Abi-Nader at
For more information on the Whole Measures for Community Food Systems and this presentation, please contact Jeanette Abi-Nader at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Susan Clark, AFP Project Director, and Kim Niewolny, an AFP Co-Project Director, shared information on the AFP Enhancement Grants and the application process. They also answered questions about eligibility and the types of projects that can be funded. For more information, including the RFA and application form, visit our enhancement grant webpage. The deadline for applications is April 7th, 2014 at 5:00pm ET.
Diana Manee, Program Coordinator from Youth Empowered Solutions (YES!), shared YES!'s strategies for increasing capacity to include youth in food systems work. Empowering young people to participate in effective youth-adult partnerships is a proven, replicable approach to solving community problems. Learn more about YES!'s training and customized services and have the opportunity to ask questions.
Meredith Ledlie Johnson (M.S.W., Virginia Cooperative Extension) and Sarah Misyak (M.S., Virginia Tech) shared their open source farmers market orientation lesson for SNAP-eligible populations. They discussed training opportunities that enable Extension paraprofessionals to effectively implement the lesson in their home counties.
The open source lesson from the webinar presentation is available at this address: http://blogs.ext.vt.edu/eatsmart-movemore/2013/08/14/keeping-local-food-affordable.
Come check out our revised AFP organizational structure! The Appalachian Foodshed Project management team has been working with Tracy Kunkler (Sims & Steele Consulting) to rethink the way we can effectively work together. Utilizing the concepts of Dynamic Governance, the updated structure will enable us to move forward in exciting, creative and collaborative ways. This webinar was an opportunity to learn more about how community partners can take an active role in regional decision-making with the AFP management team regarding how grant objectives are met and resources applied.
Want to learn about federal programs that can help you build community food systems projects? Are you seeking basic grant-writing advice so you can apply competitively for grants and other federal funding to support your work? Want answers to questions about how to get started? Join us to hear two experienced grant writers discuss how to succeed at using federal programs to support your work. This one-hour webinar is an introduction to finding federal grant opportunities and designing a project.
The workshop will be followed up with opportunities to participate in more informal web-sessions to discuss proposal writing.
Presenters: Margaret Krome, Policy Program Director, Michael Fields Agricultural Institute; Una Van Duvall, Cross Management Services, Milwaukee Presentation
1) Introduction to the eXtension Community of Practice and the Community and Regional Food System Project
2) What constitutes a well-designed project?
3) Where to go to get funding
4) Grant Writing basics-- do's and don'ts
5) Questions and Responses
These projects are funded through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI)/National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Food Security grant program. Projects funded are multi-state, multi-year initiatives that address research, outreach, and education. A second webinar on two other projects was offered on Wednesday, April 17.
Enhancing Community Food Security in Appalachia: Lessons Learned from the Applachian Foodshed Project
Kim Niewolny and Nikki D'Adamo-Damery
Presenters provided an overview of the Applachian Foodshed Project and the systems-level work and partnerships that uniquely define our aim of enhancing community food security in West Virginia and the Appalachian regions of Virginia and North Carolina. The presenters shared key updates and lessons learned from this multifaceted effort with a focus on coalition building and Action Research.
Innovations in Community and
Regional Food Systems
Steve Ventura and Greg Lawless
Presenters described the Community and Regional Food Systems project - a collaboration of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Wisconsin-Extension, Growing Power, Inc., and numerous community based organizations in seven select cities. Presenters explained the development of our research and outreach methodology called community engagement projects (CEPs) and shared a preliminary version of a community and regional food systems 'framework' for understanding components of values-based food systems.
Learn about current research and outreach efforts in this exciting field! This webinar is the first is a planned series where eCoP members will share results from on-going projects. If you are interested in presenting your work, please contact Sharon Lezberg or Mary Hendrickson.