Community Food Security Programs Improve Food Access

The Federal nutrition assistance safety net represents the first line of defense in boosting the food purchasing power and improving the nutritional status of lowincome households in the United States. In fiscal 2000, USDA spent an estimated $32.5 billion on food assistance programs, over half of its annual budget. Community-based initiatives, such as farmers markets and community gardens, can boost the effectiveness of USDA nutrition assistance and education programs by increasing the availability of high-quality and affordable food in a community. Such initiatives also support rural comunities by strengthening the traditional ties that exist between farmers and urban consumers. Following congressional passage of the Community Food Security Act of 1996, USDA launched the Community Food Security Initiative in February 1999. This nationwide initiative seeks to forge partnerships between USDA and local communities to build local food systems, decrease need, and improve nutrition. Community food security is a relatively new concept with roots in a variety of disciplines, including community nutrition, nutrition education, public health, sustainable agriculture, and community development. As such, community food security has no universally accepted definition. Researchers at Tufts University view community food security as an expansion of the concept of household food security, which focuses on the ability of a household to acquire enough food for an active, healthy life. Community food security focuses on the underlying social, economic, and institutional factors within a community that affect the quantity, quality, and affordability of food. Researchers at Rutgers University see community food security as a process in which community-based programs work in tandem with a strong Federal nutrition safety net and emergency food assistance programs to move people from poverty to self-sufficiency and food security (see box). This article examines a variety of community food security programs, looking at their scope, their limitations, and their successes.

Issue Date:
Jan 01 2001
Publication Type:
Journal Article
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Published in:
Food Review/ National Food Review, 24, 1
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 Record created 2017-12-19, last modified 2020-10-28

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