Harrisonburg EATs deepens the understanding of Harrisonburg’s health, hunger, and local food system by conducting a broad-base food assessment in order to strategically plan solutions that improve food security, individual and family health, and the overall local food economy. Harrisonburg EATs (Everyone At the Table) is an initiative of Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Community Viability program.
A FOOD ASSESSMENT IN HARRISONBURG?
Harrisonburg City and Rockingham County are some of the top agricultural producers in Virginia and the United States. Our products are grown and raised here and shipped around the globe. Harrisonburg also features many locally produced products in its restaurants, grocery stores, and shops. However, despite the area’s thriving local and global food production:
18.4% of Harrisonburg residents experience food insecurity
33.5% of Harrisonburg residents fall below the Federal Poverty line
71% of students are a part of the Free and Reduced Lunch program
6.8% of Harrisonburg residents are unemployed
Harrisonburg EATs seeks to paint the picture of our current food system, by collecting information from residents, farmers, and business owners; by interviewing and collecting stories from across the food system including community gardeners, grocery store and restaurant owners, farmers in Rockingham County, and institutional food procurers for our schools and hospital. But, most of all, we hope to bring everyone to the table to figure out what is working, what’s missing, and how we can improve Harrisonburg’s human and environmental health, wellness, and economic viability by developing a local food system that is just, fair, equitable, and accessible for all.
In order to accomplish this ambitious goal of designing a local food system rooted in food justice, we have divided the project into three phases:
The Food System Assessment will tell the current story of food and agriculture in Harrsionburg and Rockingham Co. It will highlight successes and gaps in our local food system infrastructure, and give us indications for the next steps. Click here to learn more about the assessment phase of Harrisonburg EATs.
Phase 2: Vision
Once we have a baseline of information and everyone at the table, we can start to design and plan what we want to do to close gaps in food access, increase the amount of food grown for local use in both the city and county, and create our vision for the future. Click here to learn more about the vision phase.
Phase 3: Create
If we have assessed where we are and designed our way forward, there is nothing left but to create our vision on the ground!
A SHARED VISION FOR HARRISONBURG’S LOCAL FOOD SYSTEM
With leadership and involvement starting with those who have been most affected and marginalized by food insecurity we can take steps to improving access to land, fresh and affordable food, workforce training, and job opportunities to create a vibrant local food system that includes everyone who lives in Harrisonburg!