Last month the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County released its much-anticipated hunger-free community plan, entitled Paradox of Plenty: A Community Roadmap for Overcoming Hunger in San Luis Obispo County. The plan, funded by a grant from the USDA Hunger-Free Communities in 2011, was the culmination of a year of hard work by a large group of dedicated people in your community who are striving to put an end to hunger here at home.
During its study, the Food Bank Coalition conducted three assessments to examine food resources, food insecurity and nutritional needs in the County. It convened a broad range of stakeholders to form a food policy council, the SLO County Food System Coalition. The plan recommends five major goals and steps to achieve those goals. They are (1) that all SLO County residents have access to nutritious foods; (2) to provide improved nutrition for SLO County residents who experience food insecurity; (3) to create a sustainable local food system that is able to meet the food needs of SLO County residents; (4) to facilitate collaborative community efforts to address the root causes of hunger in SLO County; and (5) to maintain a vibrant SLO County Food System Coalition and create an effective Hunger-Free Community Plan.
Recommendation No. 3, the creation of a local food system able to meet the food needs of SLO County residents is a huge benefit not only to the hungry, but to all residents. The Food Bank Coalition’s suggestions to establish such a system include increasing opportunities for local food processing, distribution, marketing and sales, promoting agriculture as an economic development tool and cultivating the next generation of farmers through school programs, youth job training and community efforts that promote farming, ranching and fishing as professions. Ag land and fisheries must be preserved through public education and advocacy.
We salute the efforts of the Food Bank Coalition in dreaming a community free of hunger. Join us for Nikki Henderson’s plenary lecture, beamed live from the Bioneers main stage on Sunday, October 21. Nikki, who is Executive Director of the People’s Grocery in Oakland will show us how we can use the creation of “good food” systems to heal historical traumas around race, class, power and privilege in a spirit of collaboration and “ally-ship.”