In every community, people are asking how to get fresh, local vegetables and fruits into their communities. Parents, schools, businesses, and social services are all looking for ways to connect with local farmers so they can buy local and have more access to healthy foods. Healthy Communities Coalition of Lyon and Storey decided to make that dream a reality by working with volunteers and diverse groups to create a regional “healthy food hub”.
Promoting Local Connections: People of all ages and from all backgrounds began working together to create “food secure communities” with more access to local, healthy food, and greater economic opportunities for local farmers, ranchers and food entrepreneurs. After 2 years of strategic work with hundreds of volunteers and dozens of federal, state and local group partners, there’s now a quickly expanding regional “healthy food hub” in Western Nevada that is being recognized nationally.
The hub addresses local hunger, boosts the local economy and expands opportunities for youth and adults to teach and learn sustainable agriculture and gardening skills. Community members, farmers, schools, food co-ops, students, parents, nonprofits, businesses and the Coalition’s garden center, Community Roots, have helped implement and maintain 8 organic school gardens, 6 community gardens and composts, 6 community hoop houses, and 3 farmers markets that accept SNAP and USDA Senior Coupons as well as cash. The impact on reducing local hunger and increasing food security and self-reliance has been immediate and meaningful: during the summer of 2011, one of the community gardens produced nearly 7,000 pounds of produce that was donated to local food pantries.
Stopping Hunger with Volunteer-Powered Food Pantries: The Coalition’s unique food hub includes two “volunteer-powered” food pantries in Dayton and Silver Springs where people in need of the service help operate the pantries with Coalition staff management. Excess fresh food from the farmers’ markets is incorporated into the food boxes packed at the pantries, so that people have more access to nutritious food.
October 23 Food Summit: The Coalition is working with many groups to organize a Multi-Sector Regional Food Summit on October 23 with keynote speakers USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and nationally known author and speaker David Berliner. The Summit will also include discussion with representatives from Western Nevada region community groups, nonprofits, food banks, local farms and ranches, social services, federal, local, tribal and state agencies, school districts, groceries, restaurants, etc. who will discuss food issues in the region.
Contact: The Healthy Communities Coalition is a collaboration of over one-hundred local, state, federal and tribal groups and hundreds of community volunteers that agree to work together so that all members of our communities in Lyon, Storey and Mineral regions have opportunities to thrive. For more information about the coalition or attending the October 23 Food Summit, call coalition director Christy McGill at (775) 351-8242.
Photo Credit: Wendy Madson of Healthy Communities Coalition - Children in rural Dayton, Nevada enjoy their school hoop house, a low-tech green house. The hoop houses are one of many strategies to increase access to fresh produce that will be discussed at a "Food Summit" in Silver Springs, Nevada on October 23, 2012. This hoop house is included in a system of nutrition education, hoop houses, organic school and community gardens, nonprofit farmers markets, volunteer-powered food pantries, and food co-ops that compose a newly developing "healthy food hub" in the region.
Quest Lakes is a staff member of the Healthy Communities Coalition.