A year-long campaign from the city of Bloomington will aim to promote food equity in the city and economic opportunities for local farmers. The city is launching the "Year of Food" campaign, which is part of an effort to reach several goals outlined in its Sustainability Action Plan. Autumn Salamack, assistant director of sustainability in Bloomington, says the city wants to make sure its strong local food movement and farming community have ongoing opportunities to grow and help the community.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Salamack said one of the main areas of focus for the campaign is education within the community regarding where the need is for greater food security.
"Research shows that 18 percent of the county population is experiencing inconsistent access to food and we know that we have folks in this community who are going hungry," said Salamack. "We also know that we have people in this community working for organizations that are doing amazing work to really try to address food insecurity. So part of it is really raising the community consciousness of where we have needs, where we have really good partnerships and groups working on solutions and engaging all of our community in that."
City officials discussed the campaign Wednesday during a Facebook Live Town Hall:
Salamack says another focus of the campaign is on supporting existing organizations, nonprofits and food service providers to leverage their existing work and get more resources into the hands of people who need them. That may include holding neighborhood fairs to look into how to bring services directly to residents in need.
The city also plans to increase connections between the local network of food providers and local and regional retail and wholesale markets. Salamack says the city is currently looking to hire a Value Chain Coordinator, a three-year position funded through a USDA Local Food Promotion Program grant.
"As the home of the largest farmers’ market in the state, Bloomington is setting out on this initiative from a running start," Mayor John Hamilton said in a news release. "At the same time, there are many people in our community struggling to feed their families. During the Year of Food, we will work with our partners at IU and in the community to strengthen the market for local growers and producers, which will in turn solidify this core sector of our economy. When our farmers have a reliable local market, we all have a more reliable and resilient source of nutrition in our own backyard."
The campaign will feature a series of events for the community, the first of which will be a viewing of "Wasted! The Story of Food Waste" on February 16.
Salamack said one of the main areas of focus for the campaign is education within the community regarding where the need is for greater food security.