Project: Research project

Project Details


Nearly one in every eight residents of the Northeast US is food insecure. Regional Food Systems offer great potential for improving food access for vulnerable communities while at the same time strengthening local economies. However, comprehensive evaluations of these food systems and education about lessons learned are needed to realize this potential. A community's food environment consists of stores, markets, community and individual gardens, etc. that are used to supply food to residents. We will study all of the various components of this infrastructure in nine sites across the Northeast by surveying consumers and stores in these communities to understand their purchasing habits and opportunities and barriers to accessing a 'healthy foods basket.' We will develop models of the supply chains entering into specific food markets at these sites from both local/regional and national/global sources to allow for simulation and other analyses. In order for supply chains to be viable over the long-term, the production base from which a variety of foods can be sourced must be sufficiently large and environmentally sustainable. We will use various data sources to study the capacity of the Northeast to satisfy more of its own food needs. More specifically, we will examine structural, institutional, community and individual dimensions of regionally produced, healthy food consumption in disadvantaged communities. Site-specific, seasonal 'best practice' supply chains serving nine case study populations will be evaluated to understand the viability of scaling up (achieving larger scale and more volumes) and scaling out (adapting and replicating elsewhere) specific value chains to alleviate food insecurity among the underserved. Geographic Information Systems and crop production models will be integrated to quantify current and potential food production capacity and geographic distribution to meet these consumption and distribution goals, under alternative economic, policy and climate change scenarios. One of our goals is to help 'cultivate' a new generation of students capable of working across agricultural disciplines, and students will gain valuable research and community experience in this project. Extension efforts will include learning networks, a new eXtension Community of Practice, and annual project team and informational events. Community food security and hunger alleviation efforts now engage hundreds of community groups throughout the urban and rural Northeast. Members of this AFRI team have extensive experience with these efforts, and know the principal leaders at the nine study sites. At the same time, a core group of researchers, educators and practitioners has been discussing the need for an inter-disciplinary integrated project to study the Northeast's capacity to meet a much larger proportion of its food needs, including the needs of economically disadvantaged populations. Under this AFRI GFS grant, these two groups will seek to systemically and systematically build on and link the future food security of disadvantaged communities in the region to the long-run enhanced capacity of the region to produce a healthier basket of foods.

Effective start/end date3/1/112/28/18


  • National Institute of Food and Agriculture: $999,997.00


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