Community Food Security

What Is Community Food Security?

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 anti-hunger and community development. As such, no universally accepted definition exists.

Community food security can be viewed as an expansion of the concept of household food security. Whereas household food security is concerned with the ability to acquire food at the household level, community food security focuses on the underlying social, economic, and institutional factors within a community that affect the quantity and quality of food available
and its affordability or price relative to the sufficiency of financial resources available to acquire it.

Policies and programs implemented under the community food security label address a diverse range of issues, including participation in and access to Federal food assistance programs, economic opportunity and job security, community development and social cohesion, ecologically sustainable agricultural production, farmland preservation, economic viability of rural communities, direct food marketing, diet-related health problems, and emergency food assistance access.

Communities may be considered to be food insecure if
    • There are inadequate resources from which people can purchase foods;
    • The available food purchasing resources are not accessible to all community members;
    • The food available through the resources is not sufficient in quantity or variety;
    • The food available is not competitively priced and thus is unaffordable to low-income households;
    • There are inadequate food assistance resources to help low-income people purchase foods at retail markets;
    • There are no local food production resources;
    • Locally produced food is not available to community members;
    • There is no support for local food production resources; and
     There is any substantial level of household food insecurity within the community.

Guam Problem Statement (Situation)

What is the problem/issue?
How does the community respond to a significant food shock crisis attributed to a market disruption, natural or manmade disaster or acts of terrorism?   Following the recent food security work session sponsored by ADAP/PLGA work-group in November 2008, the discussions pointed to the need to assess the current food system of the respective alliance jurisdiction.  Specifically, the need to address the core questions of what are the food needs of a given community, what groups will be impacted the most, where is the next food source coming from and how we deal with the many uncertainties of a shock crisis and how prepared are we as a community in this area? While Guam has yet to address the issue of local production capacity as a strategy, Guam’s estimated food supply has been informally addressed at 4-7 days of available inventory at any given time. This is similar to Hawaii’s supply reference discussed in the meeting. An official assessment of this information is needed as policy issues are developed.   How can agriculture make a greater contribution to food and nutrition security becomes the focal point for further community discussions.
Why is this problem?  (What causes the problem?) UOG-CES participated as an observer in the 2007 Top Officials (TOPOFF) exercise conducted in several venues (Portland, Ore,; Phoenix, Ariz,; Washington, D.C. and Guam.  The After Action Quick Look Report highlighted several key observations that pointed to the “Departments and Agencies at all levels of government lacked critical information at times.”  In our observer role, we encountered a relevant food security concern as it dealt with the simulated food interruption issue and assessing the required food volume to feed the impacted population.  At issue is determining the information on food production and imported food supply available at a point in time and the availability of local food supply during the TOPOFF crisis.  References to who is directly responsible for providing this information became apparent as government planners struggle to provide basic information of just home much food supply is on island.  This critical information surfaced during the economic and recovery phase of finding alternate ways to import emergency food supply given the simulation imposed challenges.
Another related concern dealt with the support function groups unfamiliarity with the process for requesting federal support. This was an important observation and understanding and knowledgeable of the FEMA assets deployed process is essential in any response strategy.  While the report acknowledged the emergency centers ability to identify populations with special needs, the importance of information sharing, coordination and food security action plan real-time planning became obvious as they transitioned from addressing safety needs to how food was to be distributed to the communities.
Other observations referenced the importance of the private sector experiencing difficulty integrating into some aspects of the TOPOFF 4 response strategies.  Department of Homeland Security recognized the importance of integrating private sector representatives in future exercises (operational and strategic planning)  References to food storage and food centers became a referenced point as to who the major food importers were and the amount of food inventory available within the private sector.

For whom (individual, household, group, community, society in general) does this problem exist?
The island community (Island population & Visitor based population).

Who has a stake in the problem?  (Who cares whether it is resolved or not?)
Local and Federal government agencies and community organizations, businesses.

Subpages (2): Documents Grants