Posts By Morgan Bulger
In West Palm Beach, 18.7 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, compared with 14 percent for Palm Beach county and 14.5 percent for the U.S. as a whole. The city is also home to a large proportion of the county’s 27 federally designated food deserts. Residents live in a stark contrast to the area’s natural abundance of fresh produce, with limited retail and transportation options to grocery stores.
However, this is all about to change.
Following reports of substandard foods served in prison cafeterias and resulting objections from prison inmates this year, awareness about the quality of foods served to our nation’s inmates has increased.
A number of non-profit organizations and innovative correctional facilities have taken to improving their food service operations in recent years by working to source more local foods for inmates, with an emphasis on increasing the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as other healthy foods.
Traditional banking systems are notoriously reticent to provide start-up capital, especially to farming ventures. Tightening regulations lending, institution consolidation and less USDA capital available overall in recent in years have conspired to make the situation even more difficult.
As a result, small farm entrepreneurs across the globe are turning to non-traditional funding sources to jump-start and support their initiatives. One of these, Kiva Zip, a branch of the global lending organization Kiva, focuses on funding small business owners, including small farmers, in the U.S. and Kenya.
This piece is the part of a Seedstock series profiling women who are leading change in sustainable agriculture and local food. Read more profiles here.
As writer of the Smarter Food column for the Washington Post, among many other outlets, Jane Black has been a prolific journalist on topics of food, food politics, and sustainable agriculture. She has made it her career to broaden the discussion around the creation of a more sustainable food system, by taking culture and scale into consideration. Seedstock recently had the opportunity to speak with Jane to discuss her career so far, the path she took to get there, and what’s next in the pipeline for her career.
“The idea for the Smarter Food column really came from my reporting,” Jane explains, “I wanted to look at what was not getting a lot of coverage; the nitty gritty stuff that needs to happen to make real change.”
There are now food policy councils in every state across the U.S., tasked with bringing diverse stakeholders together towards the creation of policies and laws that help develop the economic, environmental, and social infrastructure that makes up a local food system.
Below are six food policy councils that have put in the work towards urban agriculture zoning, food access, and institutional purchasing, and have achieved results.
1. Cleveland, Ohio: Cuyahoga County Food Policy Coalition
The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Food Policy Coalition, founded in 2007, has been instrumental in establishing the food legislation landscape in Cleveland as well as facilitating and managing a variety of programs to improve food access for area residents and assist institutions with their local food procurement.