Many people are familiar with the term “food desert” and the fact that large portions of Muncie comprise food deserts, a challenge recently exacerbated by the closure of many Marsh grocery stores. Food deserts can indicate a community’s overall food security, which is the ability of people to access enough food for a healthy, active life. Food deserts are especially formidable for low income populations. In areas with low food security, residents including children may go to bed hungry multiple times per week.
Concerns over food security and health issues related to food access have attracted allies like Congressman Andre Carson, Representative Sue Errington, and the Ball State academic community. The Muncie Food Hub Partnership (MFHP), a project of Ball State’s Natural Resources and Environmental Management department, was created to explore community solutions to alleviating food access barriers while bolstering the economic vitality of local farmers. On October 25, MFHP with Edible Muncie, Purdue Extension of Delaware County, and Ball State’s Office of Community Engagement will host the second annual Food Summit, a gathering for producers, consumers, policy makers, and advocates to discuss the food economy and community food security.
Regional food security, concerns both the well-being of individuals and the ability of our community to support itself through a robust agricultural industry. Currently, about 90% of all food consumed in Indiana is imported, though Hoosiers could produce enough food to feed residents seasonally.
With support for the local food movement growing among consumers, now is an ideal time to implement infrastructure that will bolster the local food system and the vitality of food producers. Food systems comprise the farmers and producers who provide food, retail outlets that sell it, consumers, logistical operations that bring food to the point of consumption, and the policies which direct all those players’ activities.
This year’s Food Summit on Wednesday, October 25 will discuss ongoing initiatives in the Muncie community and new opportunities for shaping the future of our food system and policies. One notable goal is to develop a Local Food Council which will cultivate policies and social networks that support a healthy, just food system.
Similar examples can be found throughout the state. Bloomington Food Policy Council has affected steps to “champion the right of all residents to adequate amounts of safe, nutritious, accessible, and affordable food,” and to “promote farmers’ markets, farm stands, and the utilization of local and regional foods by groceries, restaurants, and institutions,” among others.
Residents across the region who have an interest in local food production, distribution, security, nutrition, and policy are encouraged to register for the October 25 Food Summit, held at the Ball State Alumni Center from 8:30 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Registration is open through October 16th. Attendees can choose a half day registration ($20) or a full day ($30) that includes a locally catered lunch and post-conference networking session. All attendees will be receive information from local vendors and the invaluable opportunity to help shape our community’s food future.