Food Security Initiative

The SEED Food Security Initiative county-wide initiative to eliminate food deserts in Macon County, Alabama.

Food Security


“Food security” refers to the availability of food and one’s access to it. Food security may be compromised by a lack of available food, the conditions of poverty, or because of disaster.


Food security exists when you have:


1.  Seed sovereignty and a seed bank

2.  Local growers growing sustainably

3.  Agribusiness

4.  Distribution network

5.  Food processing & storage

6.  Preparation of new farmers

7.  Food management for families

8.  Food hygiene

9.  Crisis planning

10. Agricultural land trusts

Macon County, Alabama is comprised almost entirely of food deserts as most areas are made up of small rural towns.  The county seat of Tuskegee has a population of less than 10,000 residents.  Small cities such as Tuskegee are hubs for even smaller towns, like Shorter and Notasulga.  Residents in these rural communities must drive 20-30 miles away to shop in a larger city with access to a much larger variety of stores and restaurants.
Food Deserts


Food deserts are population areas that experience limited access to healthy, nutritious and affordable food.  These barriers range from physical impediments (eg, lack of grocery stores) to socioeconomic (eg, traditional dietary preferences, lack of transportation).  Many of these impediments lead to the wide health disparities seen between the different racial/ethnic communities in America.


Macon County, Alabama is comprised almost entirely of food deserts as most areas are made up of small rural towns.  The county seat of Tuskegee has a population of less than 10,000 residents.  Small cities such as Tuskegee are hubs for even smaller towns, like Shorter and Notasulga.  Residents in these rural communities must drive 20-30 miles away to shop in a larger city with access to a much larger variety of stores and restaurants. 

SEED Response


SEED Inc has developed a holistic response that is key to the elimination of food deserts and food insecurity by coordinating with students, parents, farmers, and community institutions.


Our Farm School program engages children in grades K-12 in a curriculum of agriculture, culminating in the installation of a one-acre mini-farm at each school in Macon County.  The produce from these school gardens will be split three ways.  One portion will be sold back to the school cafeteria under the Farm-to-School program, with students opening up bank accounts with the profit.  Another portion will be canned and stored in a food bank housed at the school.  The last portion will be used to prepare community meals for Dinner and a Movie Night once a week at each school.


Food Bank

Schools house a community food bank for use in the event of emergency.


Seed Bank

Schools will also house a seed bank for local farmers in the event of emergency.


Dinner and a Movie Night

To introduce the broader community to fresh produce prepared in a variety of delicious recipes, SEED incorporates “Dinner and a Movie Night” into the Farm School curriculum.


The SEED Apprenticeship Program helps local farmers to increase their productive capacity, with the goal of meeting the annual consumption needs of the residents of Macon County.  SEED also acts as a liaison with the farming community and the school district through the Farm-to-School program.

Research Project


The Tuskegee Food Security Initiative also studies the food consumption patterns in the Macon county region to help achieve our goal of supplying as much produce from local growers as possible.

 

What SEED Chapters are doing
around the country

 

Chicago, Illinois


Dallas, Texas


Richmond, Virginia

Springfield, Massachussetts

Tuskegee, Alabama

Willingboro, New Jersey
 

Some goals of the initiative include:


•   Evaluating food purchasing habits from area grocery stores

•   Evaluating production capacity of local farmers

•   Determining food processing needs for value-added products

•   Determining what food products cannot be produced locally

•   Research international trade opportunities to keep the availability of organic produce constant throughout the year

•   Creating a new generation of farmers to assist established farmers in food production and to plan for future farm management

•   Encouraging career interest in food systems in school children


As early as the 1960s and 1970s, deep in the heart of Alabama, the concept of community supported agriculture was developing as the brainchild of a pioneer of sustainable agriculture who was raised on his family's farm and was passionately advocating for what he called "smaller and smarter" farming.