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A New Food Security Strategy

August 5, 2013
Efren Martinez (right), 22, and his friend Marcos Perez try to get neighborhood kids interested in gardening at Las Milpitas de Cottonwood farm, which is run by the local food bank in Tucson, Ariz.

Efren Martinez (right), and Marcos Perez try to get neighborhood kids interested in gardening at Las Milpitas de Cottonwood farm, which is run by the local food bank in Tucson (Image Courtesy NPR).

As food banks around the country are increasingly stressed by the combination of declining budgets and increased demand for services, many are struggling to find ways to cope. A story on NPR outlined one strategy by the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, located in Tucson. There, more than fifty families who live in one of the city’s lower income neighborhoods and depend on the food bank to meet their basic needs have been given garden plots on which to grow their own food. Robert Ojeda, who oversees the garden program, described it as “part of a growing movement within food banking” that starts communities thinking more about food self-sufficiency and gets people “thinking about long-term solutions to the problem of higher and really getting at the core issues.”

In addition to setting up and helping run the community farm at Las Milpitas de Cottonwood, the Community Food Bank has also helped more than 1,000 people set up household gardens, which provide a source of fresh produce and a stream of additional income, as participants can sell their surpluses at farmers’ markets also run by the food bank. The Food Bank has also trained people to raise chickens and bees.

Such a model represents a real shift from strategies of food security—which are often dependent on external funding and resources—to a strategy of food sovereignty rooted in the community. There’s a lot to learn from such an approach.


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  1. drbausman permalink

    Reblogged this on Sahel Green Food.

  2. Wayne Roberts permalink

    Hi Noah: As you know, I’ve been following and tweeting/facebooking your blog since the first; I notice lately, you’ve been reviewing movies and books and wondered if you’d mind taking a look at mine, which is a totally revised new edition of the NoNonsense Guide to World Food. I’d much appreciate it if you would take a look at it. I think you’ll find our ideas bounce off each other well. Dan (also copied here) is the person to call for a review copy. cheers wayne roberts

  3. Grow Calgary is the only farm in Canada that grows & raises organic food exclusively for the local Food Bank. Facebook: Twitter: @GrowCalgary Web:

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