$1.5 Million California Project to Promote Food Access

To improve access to food for people in times of disaster, University of California Cooperative Extension Advisors Drina Espinoza and Julia Van Soren Kim are working with the Department of Agriculture’s Office of Agricultural Marketing’s Community Food Systems Partnership Program and local food systems. Received $1.5 million combined from significant matching contributions from municipalities, nonprofits and foundations.

The companies have created a three-year California North Coast Emergency Food System Partnership spanning six counties: Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino, Sonoma, Napa, and Marin to strengthen local and regional food systems and support communities. Build resilience.

“Without the University of California providing the backbone, we would not have been able to access these funds,” said Susie Grady, project partner at the Urban Farms and Food Security Project, Petaluma Bounty. “The relationship of trust with UC allows us to extend our reach and reach. The neutrality part is also very important.

While some organizations respond to disasters and operate prominently by feeding, clothing and housing people, the UC Cooperative Extension is coordinating efforts behind the scenes. . Acting as a connective organisation, the UC Cooperative Extension connects local response activities with service providers and local governments to help ensure that communities receive food aid during disasters and strengthen the resilience of food systems. increase.

Grady added, “UC provides assessment, reflects on us what happened in the disaster, and builds our collective capacity when we are too busy to step back and think. I am excited about this opportunity as it will help us to Having academic partners helps organizations retain their knowledge, learn from the past, and strategize for the future. ”

Meredith Knowles of the Del Norte Tribal Land Food Security Project agrees. Excited about the space we can share it with. ”

Learning from past disasters

After the Humboldt County earthquake last December, University of California Cooperative Extension Advisor Espinoza joined a community organization that works in times of disaster, or “COAD,” to work with local governments, agencies and organizations to Assisted the community support center in Riodel, the town most affected. earthquake.

Espinoza and partners are working with affected neighborhoods, including by giving local residents direct access to food within the community through local food banks and local food trucks that prepare meals for residents who cannot use kitchens. to connect with local, state and national services.

In January, when the storm was expected, UCCE Sonoma County Community Food Systems Program Manager Mimi Enright launched COAD’s Emergency Food Group in Sonoma County. She spoke with her Van Soelen Kim, Food Systems Advisor at UCCE North Bay, and local emergency food providers about how the network can respond to food needs that may arise in the event of a flood. We talked.

“Before the storm, we got together and asked, ‘Which populations are most likely to be affected?’ Which organizations are likely to go offline because of the storm? Community hubs. “Who can deliver groceries and meals to?” Enright explained.

Further north in Del Norte County along the Oregon border, limited entry points and no major highways leave the area vulnerable to natural disasters. Landslides, wildfires, and floods frequently block roads in and out of the county, disrupting food deliveries.

The Del Norte and Tribal Lands Community Food Council, an organization working to build a more local food system by providing families with healthy, culturally appropriate meals, has said that past closures and From the pandemic, I learned the importance of improving the local system. Enables better response to emergencies affecting isolated areas of the state. Their Choice Pacific Pantry includes local products in food distribution programs, and Pacific Fresh Mobile Market provides food to vulnerable rural communities with limited access to nutritious food. is delivered directly.

Over the past five years, Northern California has experienced devastating wildfires, floods, landslides, droughts, earthquakes and pandemics, all of which put pressure on local growers, local/regional food systems and emergency food aid. is increasing.

“Food is involved in every disaster,” said Patti D’Angelo Juacion of the Marine Community Foundation.

Espinoza, Enright and Van Soren Kim have expanded their expertise in emergency food systems through various community challenges. Collectively, the UCCE team has gained first-hand knowledge of what works and what doesn’t in providing local food to food-insecure communities. They hope to share this knowledge with their regional partners and expand their collaboration on a larger scale.

“Local food production is critical to the resilience of the North Coast,” said Sonoma County District 5 Superintendent Linda Hopkins. “I am thrilled that UCCE is working with farmers to ensure that residents have healthy, local food in the face of any future disasters, whether floods, fires or pandemics. It’s a big step towards food security in California.”

Collaboration across the North Coast

The grant-funded North Coast Emergency Food System Partnership brings food producers, food policy councils, community-based organizations, local and tribal governments, cooperative extensions, emergency We bring together diverse partners such as planners. disasters and emergencies. This project will assess needs and resources such as farms and gardens, emergency food providers, and shelter sites to understand what local assets and resources can be leveraged in times of disaster.

“The Community Food Systems Partnership Program will help build more resilient and stable food systems in times of disaster and stability,” said Heather Irwin, founder of Sonoma Family Meal. . “This is a very important initiative for the future of disaster relief efforts in Northern California and we are thrilled to be a part of it. Coordinate resources between the restaurant industry and emergency meal providers to provide high emergency meals.”

One way the team hopes to strengthen local and regional food systems is by mitigating the risk of lost income and creating additional market channels for local food producers in emergency food supply chains. . The team also plans to build a network of partners, develop emergency feeding plans and stockpile local emergency food supply chain infrastructure. We will also develop policy and practice recommendations to support local/regional emergency food supply chains.

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