Food Access

What does it mean to address food access?

Though this is an essential and fundamental need, many components and facets make up food access, including food security, food sovereignty, and food justice. Learning about these terms helps to understand that various strategies and collaborations are needed to address and improve food access.

What is food security?

The World Health Organization defines food security as “access to sufficient food for a healthy and active life for all household members at all times”, and determines food insecurity “when at least one person in the household experiences insufficient or uncertain access to food at some point in the year.”

Building on the basic food security definition is the USDA definition of nutrition security: “all Americans have consistent and equitable access to healthy, safe, affordable foods essential to optimal health and well-being.” This underscores the importance of the quality of the food that people can access. Having access to only low-quality food is not enough.

The community food security definition adds in more components: “a situation in which all community residents obtain a safe, culturally acceptable, nutritionally adequate diet through a sustainable food system that maximizes community self-reliance and social justice.” (Hamm and Bellows, 2003). This description elevates the importance of cultural foodways, and brings in the values present in the larger food system.

What is meant by food sovereignty and food justice?

Food sovereignty is “the right of [all] peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems”. (Nyéléni International Movement for Food Sovereignty). Food sovereignty underscores the importance of cultural foodways as well as the importance of people having their own agency in sourcing their foods.

Food justice “seeks to ensure that the benefits and risks of where, what, and how food is grown, produced, transported, distributed, accessed and eaten are shared fairly.” (Oakland Food Policy Council). Food justice describes the equity of a community food system. 

Where can I access food (particularly healthy/local food) in Dane County?

Food Access resources are listed on the Organizations & Resources page. There are also great resources listed on the Wisconsin EATS Healthy site

Where can I grow food at a community garden in Dane County?

To grow food at a community garden, connect with the Dane County Gardens Network. The Gardens Network seeks to foster community, equity, and food by connecting people in Dane County with the space, education and resources to create and sustain community gardens.

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