The Blaine County Food Assessment Report is Ready!

ExecsummaryCoverThe Blaine County Community Food Assessment (BCCFA) report on our local food system is published, and available online here. The Executive Summary is available here. Also watch for presentations at City Council and County Commissioner meetings during February and March.

The BCCFA team of local organizations and individuals researched Blaine County’s food production, consumption patterns, food waste and recovery, and food security over the course of 2015. The group will continue to work together in the food system framework. Many moving parts need Blaine County Community Food Assessmentto be coordinated to achieve bold goals such that food access, healthy diets and sustainable farming work together to promote greater health and quality of life for all.

The project grew from The Hunger Coalition’s interest in food insecurity rates, and the community’s interest in local food system development. The report provides a critical tool for community members pursuing opportunities to localize the food system: it can support grant applications, be used as baseline information to continue research, and it provides recommendations to get the ball rolling on projects. Continue reading

Food Waste and Recovery-Initial Survey Results

Objective: Describe food waste and recovery options in Blaine County

Methods: interviews with stakeholders

Outcomes: Clear Creek provides curbside trash and recycling – plastics #1-5, metal cans and mixed paper excluding corrugated cardboard, and they are piloting food waste recovery on a commercial scale. Winn’s Composting is the only composter in Blaine County that is state certified. There are individuals who collect grease and turn it into bio-fuel. Grocery stores employ several diverting options – giving to employees, food banks, as well as community members who voluntarily pick it up and use it for composting or livestock feed. Blaine County Schools send food waste to Winn’s Composting, and employ a “share table” where unused food is placed and students can take items from the table if they are still hungry. Blaine County is managed as part of a Solid Waste District, which includes eight counties, but we also have our own rules regarding waste management.

Food-Waste_low1Some of the barriers that our interviewees encountered are revenue and prohibitively high start-up costs (one interviewee cites $800K for the first two years of a composting operation). A County Commissioner states that the County would be very supportive of expanding food waste recovery programs, though they do not have the financial resources to do this solely on their own. Opportunity exists to work with a contractor to lease lands, and look at other financial incentives. Time and water rights were other major barriers – groundwater rights present a huge hurdle to obtain, and they have limits on how much water you can use, depending on your permit. Additionally, it often takes a lot of time and skill to convert waste into bio fuel or other high value outputs, and the product yield may be low compared to the time invested. Continue reading

On The Table!

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The Blaine County Community Food Assessment has completed phase II of the assessment, and would like to share its findings with the public. Join the Food Assessment team for ‘On the Table’, a free event with presentations on local food production, food waste and recovery, food security and food consumption. The team is wrapping up research on a variety of topics related to the local food system. As part of this research, over 1,100 community members offered feedback on local food and food security during our August survey. That number is a true testament to the passion of Blaine County residents, and the strong desire to improve our food system in ways that benefit our entire community.

To learn more about our efforts we invite you to visit with us at the Hailey Grange on October 17th, from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. In addition to discussing the survey results, we will share results from focus groups, canvassing, dot surveys and stakeholder interviews. Light fare and refreshments will be served during the event.

This research is the first step in what the assessment team envisions to be a collaborative and fruitful process. What we learn will inform our future endeavors. As many have voiced, local food is just a means to an end: it is useful only if it delivers real social, economic and environmental benefits. Therefore, our collaborative group will work to identify appropriate programming, policy, promotion and more to address our community systems meaningfully.

Outreach Volunteers Needed!

surveyThe Blaine County Community Food Assessment is in need of volunteers to help canvass neighborhoods to distribute an important food questionnaire.

If you like talking to people from all walks of life and like being active and on the move, help the Community Food Assessment reach people that may need help.

Canvassing is from August 3- August 15, and shifts are as little as one day a week for two hours – English and Spanish speakers are needed. Call Rachel at 208-788-0121 or email rshinn@thehungercoalition.org for more information.