As we gear up for a new season of the Magic Food Bus in Deer Isle-Stonington, we reflect on one of our most important goals: To give Islanders access to good food, specifically fruit and vegetables. This month, Edible Island staff attended a community meeting about food security, where we discussed local efforts to make good food more accessible on the Island and throughout the Blue Hill Peninsula.
The meeting took place at the Halcyon Grange with a room full of individuals committed to expanding when and how people connect with food: Farmers that run public workshops on food production; educators that teach children and young adults about gardening and nutrition; volunteers that prepare community meals and manage food pantries; nonprofits that glean excess crops from farmers’ fields, offer culinary arts classes, work in schools to improve school lunch, plan summer meal sites, and provide food assistance information; and community “navigators” that offer resources and services to help people break the cycle of poverty. As we listen and contribute to the challenges, successes, and stories shared around the room, we think back to our core goals and what brings us all together: A vision for greater food security in our community.
Food security applies to everyone. It is defined as the condition in which all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.
All people implies that food security is measured on a community scale--if some people lack the food they need, then our community as a whole has not achieved food security.
At all times requires that people have access to the food they need all day, every day, all year, and every year, and that this food is available reliably and consistently.
Physical, social, and economic access recognizes that people may experience many and varied barriers to getting the food they need, such as the availability of jobs, income stability, reliable transportation, distance to a grocery store, individual health and ease of mobility, neighborhood safety, and relationships within the community, among others.
Sufficient, safe, and nutritious food values the quantity of food available on a regular basis as well as its quality, both in nutritional content and in the way it is grown, transported, stored, and cooked to nourish people and to prevent foodborne illness.
Meets their dietary needs and food preferences acknowledges that not all foods are “created equal” -- a healthy, balanced diet is diverse and individualized, and may include specific foods for health reasons or in accordance with cultural backgrounds or beliefs.
Active and healthy life reminds us that the right food provides us with the sustained energy we need to remain active, productive, and able to care for our overall health.
Our partners and colleagues at the food security meeting addressed each aspect of this definition with strategies designed specifically for the needs of Peninsula residents. Plus, we discovered that most groups offer services that are free-of-charge and that are open to anyone regardless of income or family size; all of them seeking to expand the number of people accessing and enjoying good food. Among those in attendance, many concentrated their efforts on one or more (often overlapping) areas: Growing and harvesting food, school-based food initiatives, and food distribution systems.
We will explore each of these areas over the next few weeks of posts, so please keep checking back. In the meantime, we encourage you to visit us on the Magic Food Bus for our opening week! Our summer schedule runs from June 22 to August 31, 2017 at the following locations (for approximately 40 minutes per stop):