The Community Farm Alliance released this statement about food security:
Community Farm Alliance (CFA) is advocating for local communities to redirect funds from police department budgets toward food security efforts and other preventative programs that make our communities more safe. We join those across Kentucky that are demanding these changes because CFA knows firsthand how programs facilitating increased access to fresh, healthy food can improve quality of life, health outcomes, and boost the local economy.
“The events of the past few months have posed both immense challenges and tremendous opportunities for small farms [like ours] to reimagine and reinvent business models and marketing channels to rise to the occasion and provide our communities with safe, healthy, and affordable local food. I’ve been privileged to see firsthand the difference healthy, affordable local food can make in underserved communities. Our farm works with a local nonprofit to provide over 600 families in Louisville local, organic produce from June-October. Reallocating budget dollars to expand programs like these would be a win for Kentucky’s farmers and would show a genuine commitment to building safe and equitable communities in the Commonwealth.” — Ben Abell, Rootbound Farm, Community Farm Alliance Member
Research clearly shows that there is a link between a lack of food security and exposure to increased crime and violence. Subsequently, police budgets have increased year after year in communities across Kentucky and the country. What if instead of trying to solve our communities’ underlying problems through increased policing, we addressed the root causes of pain and suffering in our communities and invested in those solutions?
“This could be the lead domino. Fixing things systemically is better than throwing money at something without fixing the root of the problem — we need to address the real issues. We need to make accessing healthy local food easy. We need to figure out how we can do the little things that make a big impact.” — Paul Dengel, Good Thymes Organic Farm, Community Farm Alliance Board Member
CFA believes cities and counties should invest in programs and services like grassroots community-led food justice initiatives, Fresh Stop Markets, summer and emergency feeding programs, food banks, local independent grocery stores, and matches for Kentucky Double Dollars at farmers markets.
Community Farm Alliance has been heavily investing in Kentucky’s local food system for over a decade through our Farmers Market Support Program, Kentucky Double Dollars, FARMacy, and FreshRx for MOMs programs. These programs facilitate access to healthy food from local farmers to low-income consumers, and as research shows, these types of programs increase food security among their participants.
In 2019 alone, the Kentucky Double Dollars program generated an economic impact of $437,000 and in 2016, participants of the FARMacy program in Letcher County gained many health benefits including improvement in blood pressure, weight loss, increased energy, and achieving optimal blood glucose levels.
Investing in programs that are both a win for farmers and a win for Kentuckians is an investment in a healthy community and a healthier future.
These are just several programs that have been proven as solutions to food insecurity in our state while also being an economic stimulator for the agriculture economy. Our organization sees the value of consumers connecting with local producers, and we believe that no barrier should prevent anyone from having access to fresh, local, healthy food. When our local food system is strong, so are our communities.
Earlier this year, Kentucky’s state legislature officially recognized the importance of access to safe, affordable, culturally appropriate, and nutritious food by adopting House Resolution 99 and Senate Resolution 203.
There is momentum, and together, Kentucky, we can address food insecurity and grow healthier communities. You can help by contacting your local councilperson and ask that they divest from policing and reinvest in community services including food security efforts.