Whatcom Food Network Forum – May 11, 2011

There were so many interesting people to meet and so little time! The Whatcom Food Network committee organized a great event that many not for profit organizations, local businesses, city and county representatives, community groups, local food activists, environmentalists, and interested individuals attended. PSFN was fortunate enough to take part in such a fun networking event.

“Working to build common understanding and facilitate collaborative efforts toward a healthy and equitable food system for all”. This is the mission statement of the Whatcom Food Network Planning Committee. This group is well on their way! Speakers at the event included Samya Lutz, Whatcom County Planning Department, Colleen Burrows, WSU Whatcom County Extension, Rosalinds Guillen, Community to Community Development, Nicole Willis, Whatcom County Health Department, Marde Solomon & Holly O’Neil, Whatcom Farm to School, Laura Ridenour, Sustainable Connections, and Drew Betz, Director of the WSU County Extension.

Colleen Burrows from the WSU Whatcom County Extension gave a short overview of the Whatcom Food Assessment. In 2007, Colleen and Drew Betz started the assessment that would not conclude until 2010. The Whatcom Food Assessment is a compilation of crucial data that will be used to improve and develop programs for farmer education, farmland protection, nutrition education, hunger reduction, and policy advocacy. To see what their specific results are, the assessment has been posted online. Overall, the assessment concluded that food insecurity exists in Whatcom County. According to the data collected by Colleen Burrows, Drew Betz, and their volunteers, 15% of Whatcom County residents fall below Federal Poverty Guidelines, 7.2% of Whatcom County residents are currently utilizing food stamps, and 15% of Whatcom County adults felt they did not have enough to eat in the last 12 hours.

It was impressive to attend this event and learn about Whatcom County’s efforts and energy towards its food activism movement! If groups like the Whatcom Food Network continue to work hard and collaborate, food insecurity will be a thing of the past. Keep up the hard work!

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