Wake County, North Carolina is Moving Beyond Hunger

by Justin Taylor
Part of the Food Policy Snapshot Series

Policy Name: Moving Beyond Hunger: Comprehensive Food Security Plan and Action Manual for Wake County

Location:

Wake County, North Carolina

Population: 1 million (US Census, 2017)

Home to state capital, Raleigh

Overview:

Wake County, North Carolina, through its food council, called the Capital Area Food Network, has developed a comprehensive plan to address the issue of food security, called Moving Beyond Hunger. The plan involves collaboration between nonprofit organizations, for-profit businesses, and local government to ensure that all residents have adequate access to healthy food. It is an ambitious action plan designed to attack food insecurity from all sides.

Progress to date:

According to their March newsletter, the Capital Area Food Network is making progress implementing the plan. In February the Wake County Board of Commissioners officially endorsed the plan. CAFN has also recently developed a list of all of Wake County’s community gardens as a resource for the public.

Program/Policy Initiated:

The plan was published in the summer of 2017.

Food policy category:

Food security

Program goals:

With an overall goal of improving food security within Wake County, the plan lays out the following five broad objectives:

  1. Ensure Food Access
  2. Communicate and Educate
  3. Develop a Sustainable Food Supply
  4. Build Economic Opportunity
  5. Leading Through Networks

How it works:

In 2014, the Capital Area Food Network, convened to explore the issue of childhood hunger. They soon discovered the complexity of the problem. They realized that any successful approach to dealing with food insecurity would require collaboration among multiple sectors of the economy and society. As a result, they developed Moving Beyond Hunger: Comprehensive Food Security Plan and Action Manual for Wake County. Below are some of the ways in which the Capital Area Food Network aims to achieve its five objectives.

Ensure Food Access

  • Expand food pantries in schools.
  • Promote affordable mobile food market programs.
  • Expand food and meal delivery programs to low-income residents, especially seniors.

Communicate and Educate

  • Expand nutrition and gardening classes offered.
  • Support strong volunteer networks.
  • Centralize food resource data into the Wake Network of Care online app.

Develop a Sustainable Food Supply

  • Build community gardens at food bank and food pantry sites.
  • Create education programs around food donation (liability, food safety, tax incentives, etc.).
  • Develop a county compost program.

Build Economic Opportunity

  • Reduce barriers to the food assistance application process.
  • Offer job training in urban agriculture.
  • Offer education programs on food and household budgeting.

Leading Through Networks

  • Hire a county-based Food Security Coordinator.
  • Encourage local governments and school systems to sign on to this plan.
  • Make use of corporate sponsorships and partnerships.

Why it is important:

The USDA defines low food security as “reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet” with “little or no indication of reduced food intake” and very low food security as “multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.” In Wake County, 131,800 residents are considered to have either low food security or very low food security. At 13.8% or 1 in 7, that is slightly higher than the national average of 12.3%, as reported by the USDA. The incidence of food insecurity among children is even higher, with 1 in 5 children suffering from food insecurity.

Wake County is the second fastest growing county in the United States, with a growth rate of 14%. Lawmakers and community leaders have decided that they need to address the issue of food insecurity now, before it expands along with the county’s rapidly growing population. Since Wake County includes both the urban area of Raleigh and the surrounding rural areas, a comprehensive approach is necessary in order to positively impact the county’s full diversity and complexity.

Evaluation:

The Capital Area Food Network uses five indicators to evaluate the efficacy of each strategy.

  1. The Meal Gap tracks the need for food among at-risk families with relation to  Wake County’s ability to fulfill that need through improved household resources or food assistance programs.
  2. Community Participation measures the number of Wake County residents learning about food or volunteering to help improve the food system.
  3. County-based Food Supply targets local food production and the diversion of food waste to food rescue programs.
  4. The Food Job Index shows the health and strength of jobs in the food sector within the overall local economy.
  5. Organizational Connections measures collaborations and networking among Wake organizations.

Learn more:

https://capitalareafoodnetwork.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/2017-05-01-foodsecurityplan-compressed.pdf

Point of Contact:

Capital Area Food Network

[email protected]

https://twitter.com/capareafoodnet

Similar practices:

In recent years, cities across the country have begun developing comprehensive food plans. Examples include Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Seattle.

 

References:

https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/wakecountynorthcarolina/PST045217

https://mailchi.mp/68e220d32c4a/newsletter-march-2018?e=dd4edca59f

https://capitalareafoodnetwork.wordpress.com

https://capitalareafoodnetwork.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/2017-05-01-foodsecurityplan-compressed.pdf

https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us/definitions-of-food-security.aspx

https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us/key-statistics-graphics.aspx

https://planning.baltimorecity.gov/baltimore-food-policy-initiative/healthy-food-retail

https://www.dvrpc.org/Food/sustainablefoodsystems.htm

https://www.seattle.gov/environment/sustainable-communities/food-access/food-action-plan

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