The Iowa Food Systems Council's (IFSC) Food Access and Health Work Group (FAHWG) has released a questionnaire to political candidates who are in the running for state and federal offices in Iowa, to understand their plan of action for the food system. A press release announcing that the questionnaire is being sent was released on September 4 by IFSC and FAHWG. Here's the press release message:
The food system is central to Iowa's economy, landscape, culture and history. FAHWG believes that future policymakers and community leaders should establish platforms on the role of food in Iowa and how they plan to achieve a diverse and just food system that eliminates hunger, increases access to nutritious food, and improves the health of all Iowans, farms and communities.
A state rich in fertile soils and sprawling agricultural fields, Iowa still experiences food insecurity at astonishing levels. Hunger in Iowa is not just another issue; it's an issue that affects nearly 400,000 Iowans and one in five children. Many diet-related chronic diseases today stem from low access to fresh produce and nutritionally dense foods. Although there are many efforts to improve food insecurity and increase availability of fresh fruits and vegetables to low-income Iowans, support is needed from the local, state, and federal levels to move forward.
Candidates' "Recipe for Success" for the Future of Food in Iowa
Questions sent to candidates were derived from a civic action guide created by FAHWG. The Future of Food in Iowa: A Voter's Guide outlines questions intended to raise awareness and promote public discussion around the many pertinent issues affecting Iowa's food system. The guide includes issues such as food security, hunger, nutrition, health, food assistance, farming, gardening, processing, farmers markets, food hubs, food waste and more.
"With a number of pivotal races coming up this election year, it is important that voters understand where candidates stand on food systems issues in our state. In addition, forging partnerships with the public sector will assist in our efforts to bring improved policies that will provide opportunities and hope to our hungry friends and neighbors," says Cory Berkenes, the state director of the Iowa Food Bank Association.
Civic action guide sent to candidates to learn food policy positions
The voter's guide outlines questions for candidates who are running for local, state and federal office, say Betsy Danforth Richey and Amy Joens, of the IFSC and FAHWG. The two spokeswomen say FAHWG believes that policies must be implemented on each of these levels to ensure a healthy, sustainable and equitable food system. These questions will build awareness and help prepare the public sector for successful enactment of food system policy. They can be used to raise food system issues at debates, forums, and town-hall meetings, which will allow citizens to hold candidates accountable to improving food policies that eliminate food insecurity and improve health in Iowa. Candidates running in a general, primary, city, or school election can be found at sos.iowa.gov/elections/candidates.
FAHWG will publish candidates' responses so that their positions on food system issues are well understood by their prospective voters. To receive a copy of The Future of Food in Iowa: A Voter's Guide or for more information, visit the IFSC website or email [email protected].
About the Food Access and Health Work Group: Launched in March 2010, the Food Access and Health Work Group (FAHWG) is a vibrant statewide network of 600 food and nutrition assistance program administrators, emergency food system providers, public health professionals, community-based organizers and food system stakeholders focused on cultivating a diverse and just food system that eliminates hunger, increases access to nutritious food, and improves the health of all Iowans.
The signature initiative of FAHWG is Cultivate Iowa, an evidence-based social marketing campaign that aims to inspire Iowans to grow some of their own produce and live healthier lifestyles. In addition, Cultivate Iowa is focused on empowering gardeners and community members to donate fresh produce to their local food pantries or other community organizations. For further information, visit the Cultivate Iowa website.
About the Iowa Food Systems Council: The Iowa Food Systems Council is an emerging member-based nonprofit organization whose charge is to monitor Iowa's food and health landscape, to encourage and coordinate connections between food system leaders and decision makers. The Council also identifies policies, programs and research that cultivate a resilient and sustainable food system -- a food system that builds healthier Iowans, communities, economies and the environment. For further information, visit the IFSC website.