Urgent Evoke

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Food Security in the Wealthiest County in the USA, Learn2, part 2

In Learn2, part1, I shared the data I found, revealing that even in the "wealthiest county in the USA" food security is still an issue for thousands of people.

In Learn2, part2, I will share the three most most innovative projects working to increase food security in my community that I was able to find:

(1) The "Plant a Row for the Hungry" volunteer network in Loudoun County, VA. [Further research showed that the PAR program was actually nation-wide, so if you are in the US, it might be worth checking if there is something similar in your community.]

It's a very simple idea. People who garden anyway are asked to plant more than they need so that they can donate some of their harvest to other people who do need it. Loudoun Interfaith Relief, the largest food pantry in the county, collects the produce from the PAR program and distributes it through their food bank. 2009 was the program's inaugural year in Loudoun County and over 12,000 lbs of fresh produce was collected and distributed!

One of the reasons this program can be so successful where I live is that Loudoun County has a long and continuing agricultural heritage and --especially in the northwest part of the county -- there are still farms, vineyards, homesteads -- and many people who are in the habit of gardening. Many people are trying to retain Loudoun's historic rural economy and preserve farmland and support farming.

(2) The establishment of "The Virginia Food System Council" and the launch of its first project, "Virginia Farm to School" Week.

Established in 2009, the VA Food System Council's mission is to "advance a nutrient-rich and safe food system for Virginians at all income levels, with an emphasis on access to local food, successful linkages between food producers and consumers, and a healthy viable future for Virginia’s farmers and farmland." The council brings together such diverse actors as local farmers, school systems, retailers, non-profits, schools and government agencies to work together to forward these goals.

One of the new council's major initiatives was just this week passed into law by the VA State Legislature. Virginia now has an official, "Farm to School" week each year in which local producers will be providing locally grown produce and food to be served as part of the school lunch program. From the press release:

This is a beginning step in changing the quality of school nutrition while providing economic opportunities for our farming community and strengthening farm-to-table connections throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.

As it's described in the newsletter from which I first heard about it:

Virginia is full of venison—the ultimate free-range, natural, local meat. And Virginia has plenty of families in want, struggling to put healthy food on the table.Enter Hunters for the Hungry, a nonprofit based in Big Island, Virginia, that pays dozens of processors throughout the state to butcher deer donated by hunters, then distributes the meat to local charities. The organization has provided nearly 3.75 million pounds of venison to food banks and church food pantries statewide since 1991.

405,340 pounds or 1.6 million servings were provided to those in need throughout Virginia in 2009 alone.

And lest anyone think that this amount of hunting in unsustainable of environmentally irresponsible, it's important to note that deer hunting is carefully regulated by the state with an eye toward managing the deer population for the safety and health of both deer and humans.

Under optimal conditions, a deer population can double in size annually. With no regulating factor (e.g., predators, hunters), a deer population would expand to the point where some resources, generally food, would become scarce. Sources of mortality other than hunting (e.g., diseases, injuries, predation) are typically not sufficient to control deer populations.

While deer population levels across the state of Virginia vary, Loudoun County is still considered to be over-populated with deer.



Views: 18

Comment by Michele Baron on March 16, 2010 at 4:28am
good links. Thanks.
Comment by David J on March 16, 2010 at 4:47am
Great post. Deer can actually be a big problem for local gardeners. Plus, lots of people like to hunt. It's good that there's a program in place where hunters can donate the deer meat.
Comment by Omri or something on March 22, 2010 at 10:01am
Amazing. I liked it a lot.

Jamie Oliver talks about the issue of food education in school.


It's a good lecture and says a lot.
Comment by Hayden Darrell Linder on March 23, 2010 at 3:35pm
Wonderful post and yeah that quote isn't lying about the deer population. In Austin we have a suburb called "Lakeway" and they protect their deer population against hunting. The deer have always been a problem for motor vehicles and have caused more accidents than I can count. So now due to their overpopulation we have had in increase in the coyote population in Austin.

I am not a hunter but I certainly wold love to have the Lakeway heard managed by somebody. Especially if it feeds some needy people.


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