In Atlanta, three out of four residents don’t get their recommended 2.5 cups of vegetables every day. One in four children live in families that are food-insecure, and one in three residents is obese.
Luckily, the city has Food Well Alliance, an organization promoting the local food movement and access to healthy, wholesome food and combat the health issues that barriers to these foods provide.
“We are building local community using food as a tool,” said Will Sellers, Deputy Director of the nonprofit.
Serving Kobb, Clayton, DeKalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett counties, the organization convenes stakeholders around local food to build capacity and spread the message.
Food Well’s main overarching objectives are to promote new ways to strengthen the local food movement and economy, support local farmers to help them grow more food, increase access to composting, and help farmers find the capital they need to be sustainable.
“It’s the social relationship with food, not really the spatial relationship with food,” Sellers said. “We see a collaborative network of producers and growers, neighborhoods where that food is grown, cities that protect those spaces.”
The area has 300 community gardens and 52 urban farms. “We are lifting up those stories so metro Atlantan’s know that there are really cool spaces where people are doing great work to bring food to communities,” he said.
Many growers face a barrier of access to capital. Food Well Alliance helps connect them to opportunities for funding, including offering information on grants and loans with the USDA. This is a win-win situation, as the farmers get the help they need, and the USDA see an increase and diversity in the local farmer base.
The Food Well Alliance also hosts forums to educate on health and nutrition, economic development, and growing methods. “We create a large table so folks can have access to information,” Sellers said.
“We come together, we identify a local food movement challenge, we identify the opportunities around that challenge, and because we have a bias in action, we generate solutions,” he added.
The group talks about a variety of topics, including how cities can support urban agriculture, how hospitals and other institutions can purchase more local food, and the role of garden-based education for young people.
Food Well helps promote and create products that benefit the urban farmer and provide opportunities for farmers to use technology and the most recent advancements.
Every year, the group holds the Soil Festival, an event to help people learn that everything starts from the ground up. Food Well expects more than 700 people to attend the event, taking place in May of 2019. Activities will include cooking classes and composting seminars.
More information can be found at http://www.foodwellalliance.org/ .
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