Farmers plan to meet increased demand for healthy food

Farmers and healthy food advocates from across the state joined forces today in the Capitol to talk to lawmakers about how Kansas farmers could help be the solution to the obesity epidemic and other health issues in the state by growing more fruits and vegetables.
“Kansas has the unique ability to produce a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains and low-fat dairy items so we should, in theory, have access to the freshest, healthiest foods available, but unfortunately we don’t,” said Missty Lechner, American Heart Association Advocacy Project Director. “In fact, over 90% of the food Kansans buy comes from out of the state.”
Farmers are seeing these alarming trends and think they can help.  They plan to work with people in their communities and across the state to not only grow healthy food, but also increase demand for and access to healthy food.  Lawmakers can help by passing resolutions establishing local and state Food and Farm Councils that support these new farm and community partnerships.  These councils bring together the people who grow food, the people who sell food, and the people who eat food to discuss and provide recommendations to lawmakers for improving our local food system.
Additionally, other innovative partnerships are being built to help Kansas communities.  The American Heart Association is working with the Kansas Rural Center on their “Community Food Solutions” initiative to help bridge this gap between farmers and community health.  “If we want to see real improvements in health and also keep more money locally, we have to think about things differently.  We have to make healthy Kansas-grown food an easy choice for all Kansans,” said Natalie Fullerton, Project Director for the Kansas Rural Center.
“We researched and gathered feedback from Kansans for a year, and from that, we have prepared a number of recommendations that anyone interested in food and farm issues could help advocate for.  These recommendations can get us closer to our goal of incorporating Kansas farms into the food supply chain thereby potentially improving Kansas’s economy, community, environment, and health,” said Fullerton.
If you would like more information on how you can get involved in “Community Food Solutions,” visit www.kansasruralcenter.org/cfs  and sign up to become a local food advocate.
“Community Food Solutions” is a three-year statewide partnership aimed at identifying and advocating for public policy solutions that make healthful foods the routine, easy choice for all Kansans. This initiative is a partnership between the Kansas Rural Center, the American Heart Association, KC Healthy Kids, Kansas Action for Children, Healthy Kansas Hospitals Initiative and grassroots advocates from all over Kansas, and is funded by the Kansas Health Foundation. For more information, visit www.kansasruralcenter.org/cfs.