Marion-Polk Food Share

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Jared Hibbard-Swanson, Farm and Garden Program Manager
1660 Salem Industrial Dr. NE, Salem, OR 97301
[email protected]

Ending hunger means that everyone has access to healthy food. Marion-Polk Food Share works to create a strong community food system that ensures food security for all.

A community food system is the sum of all activities required to make food available for each of us, including growing and farming, processing, distribution, consumption and waste. We work with communities to identify long-term, community-based solutions to food insecurity and connect with local farmers and food processors in order to maintain a thriving community food system that ensures food security for all.

Community Food Assessment Report

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Our Community Food Program began with the creation of the 2015 Community Food Assessment. The CFA is a grassroots research and community building process that focuses on both understanding strengths and challenges the of the local food system; the goal is to improve the food system for the future.

This was accomplished with a combination of community organizing events, interviews, surveys, and informal conversations. Overall, the process rested on the premise that a community knows what will and won’t work for it. Community FEAST (Food, Education, Agriculture, Solutions, Together) events were held in Silverton, Independence, Stayton, Woodburn and Grand Ronde. The role for the first year was largely to listen to community ideas, understand challenges, and create connections between existing groups.

This report outlines the information captured in one year in regard to the rural food system in our region. It was created by a Resource Assistance for Rural Environments (RARE) in conjunction with AmeriCorps service members in partnership with University of Oregon and the Oregon Food Bank, and Marion-Polk Food Share.

FEAST and community-based teams

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Food, Education, Agriculture Solutions Together (FEAST) is an event that brings a community together for a conversation about their local food system. Neighbors come together to identify and work towards solutions to build a healthier food system. The FEAST model was developed by the Oregon Food Bank. As a result of the FEAST process, Marion-Polk Food Share is facilitating the formation of local action teams in specific communities that work to address food access challenges. Projects vary based on the assets, opportunities and challenges within a given community. Currently, the Food Share is facilitating food access teams in Grand Ronde and Woodburn.

In Grand Ronde, the Food Access and Community Team (FACT) has hosted a follow-up FEAST community conversation with over 35 attendees. FACT is currently planning MǝkʰMǝk-Mania, which is a local food celebration and food access fair with cooking demonstrations, educational workshops, and informational booths along with a free community meal.

Food Summit

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In February 2015 we partnered with Willamette University, OSU Extension, and others to host the first Mid-Willamette Valley Food Summit. Over 180 community members came together to learn about local food efforts in Marion and Polk counties and engage in exciting collaborative plans to improve our community food system.

Additional Programming

For 10+ years, Marion-Polk Food Share has coordinated a network of community gardens, currently with 60+ member gardens. We manage the Food Share Youth Farm, which is a teen-run, 6-acre organic farm in Salem at Chemeketa Community College. We also work with the local OSU Extension office to offer monthly cooking and nutrition classes at multiple sites. Since 2014, we have offered Seed to Supper, a beginner garden education course, at several sites across Marion and Polk counties.