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Final Narrative for Kellogg Grant

Final Narrative for Kellogg Grant

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Published by: andersmag on Aug 13, 2008
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King County Food and Fitness Initiative
I. C
The Pacific Northwest is known for its livable communities and King County is home to anumber of initiatives that aim to make it easier to eat well and live actively. Efforts are underwayto promote local agriculture and provide fresh, healthy food to King County residents, especiallythose in underserved communities. Building environments that support physical activity isattracting increasing attention. A King County Food and Fitness Initiative (KCFFI) would be thecatalyst for integrating and expanding these existing efforts.King County covers 2,134 square miles and is home to 1.8 million residents, 33% of who live inSeattle, 60% in suburban cities, and 7% in rural areas. Despite a generally healthy economy,minorities and low-income communities are affected by significant economic disparities. Recentgrowth in Seattle has resulted in increasing concentrations of minority and low-income populations in the suburban cities south of Seattle. Over one in five people live in households below 200% of the federal poverty level. See appendix 1 for demographic data.Local health department data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)show that while half of residents are overweight or obese, the likelihood of being obese is 1.3times more for those with low-incomes compared to those with high incomes, 1.6 times more for African Americans (relative to whites), and 1.6 times more for people living in suburban southKing County than for those in urban Seattle. Disparities in physical activity are even more pronounced. Overall, 44% of residents are not moderately physically active. Latinos are reportedto lack physical activity at a rate 1.9 times higher than whites, people with low-incomes at a rate2.9 times higher than those with higher incomes, and south King County residents at a rate four times higher than Seattle residents. While 5.1 % of the total population has diabetes, 7.6% of African Americans, 8.8% of Native Americans and 8.5% of low-income people are affected.
Community Selection
The KCFFI will work at three distinct and nested geographic levels: 1) the food productionregion (primarily Washington State, but also the greater Pacific Northwest), 2) King County, and3) two local communities. In order to produce measurable changes in behavioral and healthoutcomes, the Collaborative will focus more intensively on two smaller communities affected bythe disparities described above with populations less than 120,000. Eight communities are under consideration for inclusion (Appendix 2). Communities will be compared using the datadescribed in appendix 3 and other variables that may emerge through the planning process.Detailed demographic, health and behavioral data for the eight communities are included inappendix 4.The Leadership Council (see below) will review the data, identify gaps in information needed tomake the selection and prioritize selection criteria. Once the necessary information has beencollected, the Leadership Council will review the final data and select two communities. Thisselection process will coordinate with existing coalitions (Appendix 5) addressing food andfitness (FF) issues in the area in order to create linkages and assure a critical mass of activities to produce community change.
Local Food System
For this Initiative, the primary region of food production is defined as Washington State.However, emphasis will be placed on components of the food system (production, marketing,distribution, etc.) as close to King County as possible. Significant changes in this food system areunfolding. More families are seeking locally and sustainably produced foods, for the health of 1
King County Food and Fitness Initiative
their children and the natural environment. The food system is beginning to respond to this shiftin consumer preferences with several innovative approaches, as described below.Production
Demand for fresh produce has led to increased production of high value crops throughintensive row and greenhouse/nursery methods. The value of produce has more than doubled invalue since 1982. Public interest in preserving farmland, expressed through the County’sFarmland Preservation Program, has maintained farmland acreage at 41,759 acres since 1992
.The average farm is 38 acres, and the average farmer is 56 years old. Attracting new farmers tosustain the farming industry in the area is a challenge for local agriculture.
Community Gardens:
Seattle residents have increasingly participated in community gardens.There are now 70 gardens managed through the P-Patch Program, which encompasses 14 acresof land, 2,500 plots, and 5,000 urban gardeners, with a waiting list of 500. The aptly named“Lettuce Link” program provides 7-10 tons of fresh P-Patch produce to urban food banksannually. Community garden programs are lacking throughout the rest of King County.Efforts have begun to extend the benefits of community gardens to low-income and immigrantresidents. Marra Farm, a four-acre inner city farm in a largely Latino low-income Seattleneighborhood, is an inspiring model for the Collaborative (Appendix 6). It integrates communitydevelopment, local food production, and opportunities for physical activity while increasingaccess to fresh, inexpensive food. The site offers a place for social gatherings and physicalactivity. Cultivating Communities, a program within P-Patch, has partnered with immigrant andlow-income residents to create urban market gardens, youth gardens, and nutrition education programs.Interest in involving youth in gardening is increasing. School garden programs are beginning tointegrate gardening activities into curriculum. The Puget Sound School Gardens Collectiveconnects existing school garden programs and links them to other farm-to-table efforts.Homeless and under-served youth engage in garden-based education and employment, farm atMarra Farm, and sell produce in Seattle farmers’ markets through Seattle Youth Garden Works.Marketing and DistributionFamilies in King County are now able to purchase locally produced food in a number of venues.Locally produced food is contributing a growing share to the $108 million in dairy products and$120 million in vegetable products sold each year in King County
 Direct Markets:
Families can shop at 28 farmers’ markets in King County, including ten inSeattle. Washington State farmers' market sales have increased 20% annually since 1997, withestimated total sales of $22 million in 2003. In 2005, Seattle farmers' markets alone totaled $3.5million in sales, and all county markets combined totaled more than $7 million. Farmers travelfrom all over the state to sell at King County farmers’ markets
. The Puget Sound Freshmarketing program promotes local farm products in King and eleven other counties in WesternWashington (Appendix 7). Farmers within King County participate in twelve CSA programs, 59market directly on the web through Puget Sound Fresh, and 51 farms and farmers’ markets selldirectly through the annual Puget Sound Fresh Farm Guide.
Families can find locally produced foods at many grocery retailers, including PCC Natural Markets, Whole Foods Markets, Safeway, Thriftway, QFC and Metropolitan Markets.PCC is the largest food cooperative in the country (40,000 members). In addition to buying fromlocal farms, PCC supports the local food system by participating in the Acting Food PolicyCouncil, and by operating a Farmland Trust to purchase and protect Washington State farmland.2
King County Food and Fitness Initiative
Families that eat out can find more locally produced foods on the menu. An increasing number of restaurants purchase from local farms. For the last two years, a partnership between ChefsCollaborative, Ecotrust, Cascade Harvest Coalition, Washington State Department of Agriculture, and others brought over 250 farmers, food buyers, and chefs together to increasemarkets for local farmers and provide procurement options.
 Food Assistance:
Food assistance programs help many residents meet basic food needs. Wellover 68,000 low-income families in Seattle depend on a network of 30 community food banks. Asubstantial proportion of food bank clients are families with children. Despite the important rolethat the food bank system plays in feeding children during their most critical developmentalyears, food banks receive little fresh, local produce and other healthy food products. Food banksin Seattle and King County are coordinated by the Seattle Food Committee and the King CountyFood Coalition, whose participation in KCFFI will help the Initiative engage low-incomefamilies at increased risk for obesity and poor nutrition.
Youth eating at schools find more local produce in the cafeteria through efforts of theFarm-to-School-Connections Team. Parents, schools, food producers, and retailers connectschools to farms via the classroom and the cafeteria, or at the farm. The Cascade HarvestCoalition works with the University of Washington to increase locally grown food in campuscafeterias.
Wholesale Markets:
In addition to direct sales to consumers, many larger farms sell wholesalethrough local buyer/distributors that in turn supply local restaurants, schools, and institutions.While some farmers have cultivated relationships with retailers and restaurants through directsales, there is significant opportunity for expanding wholesale networks.Gaps in the Food SystemThe local food system has significantly increased its capacity to deliver local foods to KingCounty families over the last decade, but barriers to accessing to locally grown food remain.Farmers lack access to processing and storage facilities, transportation networks, andinfrastructure necessary to move food efficiently to local markets. Farmers selling to institutionssuch as hospitals or schools encounter liability issues related to food safety. The true cost of food production makes local, healthy food less affordable for low-income communities.
Public Health and Health Care Institutions
Public Health - Seattle & King County (PHSKC) has made prevention of overweight through built environment and food systems strategies one of its top three priorities since 2004. Itsinitiatives emphasize working with youth and families in low-income communities. PHSKCsupports several coalitions that address food and fitness issues (see Section IIIC below andAppendices 5 and 8). Efforts addressing the built environment include piloting of health impactassessment tools and checklists for planners. PHSKC recently hired an environmental health planner, who will participate in KCFFI, to address issues of health and the built environment.Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center, a recognized leader in pediatric health, theChildren’s Obesity Action Team (COAT), and Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic are dedicated tothe prevention and management of pediatric overweight. These groups provide innovativecommunity-based programs (e.g. Strong Kids Strong Teens program for overweight youth andfamilies) and culturally responsive, age specific resources promoting nutrition and active living.They emphasize partnerships with parents and children, linkage with community resources, and acohesive system of care based on the socio-ecologic model to support children, youth, and3

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