“How do we get more people at the table?”
On Friday, approximately 150 people from across the community gathered at Metropolitan Community College to celebrate the launch of “Share Our Table, ”a collective effort to address community food insecurity.
Approximately 100,810 people (12.5%) in the Omaha-Council Bluffs metro experience food insecurity, meaning they do not consistently know where their next meal will come from. Attendees at the food summit began the day by sharing their own understanding of the words “food secure.”
- “Knowing where your next meal is coming from”
- “Being able to eat when you want”
- “Knowing that the families I help don’t go to sleep hungry at night”
A number of speakers, including United Way of the Midlands’ Mariel Harding, shared information about the creation of “Share Our Table” with community members at the summit.
Attendees learned that this collective effort to address community food insecurity resulted from a two-year planning process that was convened by UWM and funded by the USDA and Iowa West Foundation. The Douglas County Health Department, Food Bank for the Heartland, and No More Empty Pots served as strategic co-leads.
More than 70 partners participated in the planning process, and together, they developed a community food security plan for Douglas, Sarpy and Pottawattamie counties. Now, Share Our Table will implement strategies that align with the four goals outlined in the plan. Live Well Omaha is in charge of helping the collective move forward.
“Together, we have amazing expertise, knowledge and experience so we can begin to lift this plan up and push it into action.” – Nancy Williams, No More Empty Pots
A number of studies that guided the plan were headed by Dr. Craig Gundersen, an ACES Distinguished professor and director of undergrad studies at the University of Illinois. Summit attendees had the pleasure of hearing him deliver the keynote address.
During his presentation, he shared a number of insights from his research.
Did you know…
- Some of the determinants of food insecurity include not being a homeowner or undergoing a recent change in residence.
- Food insecure adults have $1,834 higher annual healthcare costs than food secure adults.
- Children are more likely to develop depression, aggression or anxiety if they are food insecure.
*Photo: Pictured left to right is Sarah SJolie of Live Well Omaha, Dr. Craig Gunderen and Mariel Harding of United Way of the Midlands.
Following Gundersen’s keynote, attendees broke out into small groups to discuss the four different goals of the plan.
Goal 1: All community members have equitable and adequate access to nutritious food.
Goal 2: Food is produced and distributed in ways that create a sustainable system that values workers, consumers, and the land.
Goal 3: Community members have knowledge and skills to grow, select, and prepare nutritious food to maximize resources.
Goal 4: Catalyze community change around food system challenges and root causes of hunger.
Common discussion themes included establishing metrics around food security in our community, building awareness of the programs already operating in the community, sharing the plan with the public and advocating for policies that will help reduce food insecurity.
“It’s going to take the collective effort of each and every person to achieve the ambitious goals we’ve set out in this plan.” – Sarah Sjolie, Live Well Omaha
At the end of the day, attendees were encouraged to join the workgroups that will implement strategies in the plan.
About the Author
Brayton is the Manager of Communications at United Way of the Midlands. She spends most of her days writing press releases, letters, brochures and more, but she wouldn’t have it any other way! She loves to travel and is always daydreaming about her next adventure. When she’s at home, you’ll most likely find her hanging out with her family and friends, eating chocolate or reading a good book.
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