Working on Food Access Issues
Arizona agriculture employs more than 138,000 people in Arizona and has a $23.3 billion impact on Arizona’s economy. With the millions of pounds of vitamin rich produce, meat, eggs and dairy products produced in the state, Arizonans should not be hungry.
As part of Governor Doug Ducey’s Goal of Happy & Healthy Citizens, the Arizona Department of Agriculture (AZDA) works to reduce food insecurity (lacking access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food), diabetes and obesity. In conjunction with the Arizona Department of Health Services (DHS) and the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES), it is a priority to ensure all Arizonans have access to healthy food.
DHS produced a map of the food deserts (areas having limited access to affordable and nutritious food) within the State. This map can be seen here.
DES has a Hunger Advisory Council that created a 2017 Action Plan. This Plan found that 1 in 6 Arizonans is affected by food insecurity and an alarming 500,000 Arizonans will face a diet-related illness by 2030.
In an effort to further Governor Ducey's goal, AZDA has been holding annual meetings (a.k.a Food Summits) and regional workshops (a.k.a. Food Access Workshops). Attendees can share their work in tackling these food issues, learn from each other and the hope is ultimately to facilitate larger collaborations in these efforts. The target audience includes non-profit organizations, governmental entities, businesses, local residents, agricultural producers, or anyone interested in or working on food insecurity related matters.
Food Summits and the Food and Agriculture Policy Advisory Committee (FAPAC)
The first annual Food Summit was held in 2016 in Phoenix, was comprised of approximately 75 attendees and identified gaps in the food systems and in collaborative efforts.
Then, in 2017, another Food Summit was held (also in Phoenix) which brought together twice as many people to address more groups from throughout the state. In breakout sessions, participants addressed three major issues: the Emergency Food System, Food System Equity and Economic Development. The AZDA also discussed creating an interactive database or providing a venue which could link interested groups or individuals with the appropriate information relating to food access in this state. Along with several other great ideas, out of this Food Summit, came the idea for the Food and Agriculture Policy Advisory Committee (FAPAC). Envisioned to be a 13-member committee, the FAPAC would be tasked with advising the Director on how the AZDA could more effectively tackle food insecurity and health issues. Goals from the 2017 Food Summit were provided to the FAPAC.
To see the current members of the FAPAC and to review meeting minutes, see the link below:
Another Food Summit was held in 2019 (on January 8th and 9th in Tucson). Click on this link for more information. There were 220 attendees present for this event.
Currently, a 4th Food Summit is being planned for September 28th and 29th in 2020 in Flagstaff.
Food Access Workshops
In November of 2017, the AZDA began holding Food Access workshops. The goal for these workshops is to target counties with a need and to facilitate larger collaborations surrounding these efforts.
Eight have been held in the following counties: Apache (2), Cochise (1 ), Gila (2), Maricopa (1), Mohave (1) and Yuma (1). An Indigenous Foods/Food Access Workshop is going to be held on September 19th in Payson (9 a.m. - 2 p.m.) at the Mazatzal Hotel & Casino. For more information, contact Michele Mellott at [email protected].
Helpful Food Access Links
AZDA wants to provide as much assistance as possible in allowing persons to retrieve the information they are looking for relating to food access and food insecurity. Click this link to view page.