Connecting farm to table to healthy eating
An interdisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Delaware partnered with the Delaware Department of Agriculture to develop a comprehensive report called Delaware Food and Farm Report: Connecting Healthy Farms to Healthy Delawareans.
This report, released in December 2016, reflects conversations with more than 45 local stakeholders, representing leadership from agriculture, public health, food retailers, economic development, government and civic organizations. Allison Karpyn, Senior Associate Director, Center for Research in Education and Social Policy (CRESP), and Associate Professor, Human Development & Family Studies took part in this research.
Delaware is a top agricultural producer, home to 2,500 family farms and $8 billion in economic impact, yet the state lacks an easy system for local buying of Delaware produced food. From the poultry industry to fruit and vegetable growers, the state boasts some of the highest quality food in the nation, yet that food is largely integrated into the global food system and bypasses our local restaurants, workplaces, institutions, schools, stores, and ultimately our tables.
Delaware must begin to link its local food system in a way that aggregates food from local farms or food businesses and provides a distribution channel for retailers, schools, food banks and other end users.
Leaders from across the state met to explore policy barriers and better understand the most pressing challenges. Together, they developed a report that lays out six policy priorities and seven action items to drive change at both the state and local levels. Initiatives include:
- Establish a Delaware Farm and Food Policy Council, accountable to the governor
- Launch a coordinated marketing campaign across multiple sectors to engage Delawareans about the benefits of agriculture’s strength to the state
- Pilot a local distribution intermediary to aggregate and distribute local products within Delaware
- Create a public-private funding source to support development of food and farming businesses in Delaware
- Unify engagement in planning and transportation efforts to improve state infrastructure
- Continue to grow and invest in a nationally recognized farm to school program by establishing a farm to school state coordinator position to promote and support additional activities
- Encourage the minimization of food loss and waste by reducing, recovering and recycling.
Together we must prioritize the economic needs of the present to ensure a promising and prosperous future for generations to come.