Key Organizations and Activities
Klamath & Lake Community Action Services partnered with Oregon Food Bank to complete a community food assessment in 2011 titled, “ Building Healthy Communities in the High Desert.”
A RARE volunteer is conducting a new 2016 community food assessment specifically for Lake County sponsored by the Lake Health District Hospital. She is also maintaining a blog with updates about the process and stories about community stakeholders.
A grass-roots, community group, Outback Food Initiative, formed in 2015 with the goal of improving access to fresh, healthy food in Lake County – and is now meeting monthly. That group is organizing a FEAST community conversation about food systems and has recruited participants for a consumer food buying club.
The Klamath-Lake Food Explorer website has a listing of local farmers that sell direct, farmers markets, community gardens, food pantries and other resources. Lake County has seen increases in the number of farmers markets, the number of farms selling food direct to consumers, and in total sales direct to consumers.
However, Lake County is not actively participating in farm-to-school activities, with no schools reported to have gardens in 2014 and no school districts in the county applying for Oregon Department of Education funding to support procurement and related educational programming in the 2014-2015 school year.
Community Goals and Recommendations
US Census County Business Patterns data shows that Lake County lost 2 of its 3 grocery stores from 2007 to 2013, significantly reducing access to food. The USDA Economic Research Service reported in 2010 that Lake County now has the second highest percentage in the state (22.1%) of people who are low-income and have low access to food.
Goals from the 2011 community food assessment include:
- Create a coalition of regional stakeholders to address issues around hunger and health and to initiate regional food systems projects.
- Work on strategic plans for food access with Native American and rural communities.
- Incorporate gardening activities in after school programs and church youth activities.
- Improve access to adult gardening education.
- Increase the number of direct sale markets.
- Encourage the production and sale of everyday food items like produce, milk, and meat in rural communities.
Given the very limited number of farms reporting sales of fruit and vegetables in Lake County, the authors of this report also suggest a focus on diversifying agricultural production, and incorporating season extension strategies and technologies (such as row covers and greenhouses) to increase the availability of local produce.