Topeka – The Kansas Rural Center is working with citizens and policymakers across Kansas to advocate for policy changes that would help make healthful food the routine, easy choice for more Kansans by better incorporating Kansas farms into the local and regional supply chain.
Informed by direct input from hundreds of individuals across the state, KRC recently released a report that provides citizens and policymakers with a list of three pressing goals and seven policy priorities to implement for impact by 2016.
The goals and priorities revealed through Feeding Kansas: Statewide Farm & Food System Assessment with a Plan for Public Action can be viewed and downloaded at: www.kansasruralcenter.org/feeding-kansas/.
The report’s action plan focuses on empowering everyday citizens to better understand and influence the policies that affect how food is produced and made available in Kansas. Feeding Kansas emphasizes fruits and vegetables in five of its seven policy priorities due to the significant under-production and under-consumption of these foods in Kansas. Other key goals include increasing the number of formalized local-level food policy advisory groups and creating a statewide “farm-to-fork” food system organizer position to address key barriers revealed through the assessment.
As part of the three year “Community Food Solutions” initiative that produced Feeding Kansas, KRC will spend 2015 and 2016 working with a growing network of grassroots citizens and partners to advocate for the enactment of the public policy priorities set forth in the report.
KRC’s next steps include working to empower Kansans to more actively engage local- and state-level policymakers to effect the changes they wish to see in the farm and food system. Interested individuals are encouraged to contact KRC for further information and to join in one of several grassroots advocacy trainings KRC will host statewide in 2015.
The initiative’s advocacy efforts are already underway and gaining ground. In December 2014, KRC presented the findings of the Feeding Kansas assessment to Kansas’s Governor-appointed Local Food and Farm Task Force. The task force, established with the passage of SB 286 in 2014, is mandated to provide the Kansas Legislature with its own report by 2016. The task force report will include formal policy and funding recommendations for increasing locally grown food production and availability statewide.
“Kansas’s Local Food and Farm Task Force has been very receptive to the concepts and recommendations laid out in Feeding Kansas,” reports Cole Cottin, Advocacy Coordinator for KRC and lead writer-analyst of the report. “They are clearly interested in continuing to receive more public input on what is needed to accomplish the task ahead.”
All task force meetings are open to the public and include time at the end for audience feedback. The next Local Food and Farm Task Force meeting will be held in Topeka at noon on Friday, January 23, 2015. For location details or other questions, contact Kerry Wefald at (785) 564-6758 or Kerry.Wefald@kda.ks.gov.
In her closing remarks to the task force, Cottin voiced enthusiasm for what she sees as a “win-win-win-win-win” situation for Kansas. “Food,” said Cottin, “is this wonderfully tangible issue that anyone can work on to address a multitude of challenges we face. Pulling together to advance the goals and priorities laid out in Feeding Kansas will simultaneously improve public health, strengthen the state’s economy, boost the viability of family farms, address resource concerns (such as declining water availability), and revitalize Kansas communities.”
KRC welcomes and encourages ideas and suggested strategies for effectively advancing any of the policy priorities expressed in Feeding Kansas. To provide feedback or participate in this initiative, contact Natalie Fullerton at firstname.lastname@example.org or (866) 579-5469.
The mission of KRC, founded in 1979, is to promote the long-term health of the land and its people through community-based research, education, and advocacy that advances an economically viable, ecologically sound, and socially just food and farming system in Kansas. For more information, visit www.kansasruralcenter.org.