I recently participated in the Kansas City Food Policy Summit, which was in August at the Kaufmann Foundation. It was organized by the City of Kansas City, Missouri and several local food-focused organizations including the Greater Kansas City Food Policy Coalition, Kansas City Center for Urban Agriculture and Kansas City Community Gardens. The Summit created a space to discuss the development of a comprehensive policy for Kansas City’s food production, distribution and consumption – also known as our local food system.
I spoke alongside a diverse panel of local and national speakers that included representatives from Detroit, Michigan and San Francisco, California – cities at the forefront of making their food systems more responsive to local needs while offering healthier food options, and ultimately leading to healthier communities. As a program officer at a foundation focused on health care, I was asked to discuss how foundations and other funders view food systems, and what role these organizations can play.
While food systems are not traditionally seen as related to health care, the broad impact resulting from changes to the food system is perfectly aligned with our work. And more and more funders are focused on policy and initiatives that affect entire communities. For instance, the lack of access to healthy food is exacerbated in Kansas City’s urban core. Providing equal access to healthy foods would affect our entire community, leading to a healthier population and lower regional medical costs.
The Kansas City Food Policy Summit was an important step for bringing the community together to discuss the various aspects of Kansas City’s food system. It was encouraging to see so many individuals and organizations gathered to discuss local food policy. There are many opportunities for improving our local food system and Health Forward looks forward to playing a role in the ongoing conversation.