The Food Security and Regional Food Systems Research Project is a large-scale project conducted with partners across the 12-state Northeastern United States. This project was started to address several types of food security in our region. We want to explore how to increase the capacity of the region to produce more food, and secondly, to bring that food into under-served areas in the Northeast. Food insecure people do not have access to enough healthy food for themselves or their families. Our research will help us understand whether regional food systems can improve food access for these vulnerable communities.
We’ve identified 9 disadvantaged communities In the Northeast, defined as communities that don’t have reasonably convenient access to grocery stores, farmers markets, or other places where healthy foods are sold at affordable prices. In this project, we’ll work with members of these communities to find out about their challenges to access healthy food, and what can be done to improve access.
The focus of the research is to study the relationship between food access and regional food systems. We believe that there is significant potential for increasing food access by strengthening regional food production and supply chains. Improved access of regional foods will also strengthen our farming sector and local economies.
Bringing food to consumers is no simple task, however. Our research will look at the demand for regionally produced food, and all the steps along the supply chain, from production to market to consumer. This project’s strong inter-disciplinary approach and systems perspective make it uniquely capable of studying these complex dynamics.
We will bring what we learn from our research to inform policy makers, empower and support communities to improve quality of life, and train future leaders in sustainable food system development.