Food Security

Food Security is A Fundamental Human Right

"Every one of us can make a contribution. Something. Just imagine the power of what we can do." -- Wangari Mathaai 

12.5% of Omaha residents currently experience food insecurity, not knowing where or when they will get their next meal. In certain pockets within our community, 48.5% of residents consistently experience food insecurity. With the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen residents in every zip code of the city in need of food pantry services. Thus, these numbers will likely increase dramatically over the next few years. Therefore, it is of critical importance that the Omaha City Council take the necessary steps now to promote food security and address the economic and social disparities that lead to food insecurity.

 

Social Impacts Of Hunger/Malnutrition

 

Food insecurity has a number of negative social and economic impacts in our community:

 

Severe Health Outcomes At Every Age

 

  • Food insecurity is associated with cardiovascular issues for pregnant women and can lead to infantile birth defects such as cleft palate and spina bifida, fetal illnesses including gestational diabetes, and both low birth weight and higher infant mortality rates.

  • Hunger severely impacts children causing lasting physiological problems, such as under performance in school, lower self esteem, lack of energy, socialization difficulties, and illnesses like diabetes, hypertension, and heart and lung issues.

  • Malnutrition in adults leads to a number of preventable illnesses including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and obesity.

  • Food insecure elderly residents experience increased inflammation, mental degeneration, and even organ failure.

 

Negative Economic Impact On Our Community

 

  • Malnutrition causes a range of medical issues increasing both the direct and insured costs of healthcare.

  • Poor educational outcomes lead to lower earnings and less career advancement.

 

The Risk Of Increased Crime

 

  • Studies have shown that a 1% increase in food insecurity leads to 12% increase of violent crime.

  • Studies also show that food insecurity contributes to social tensions, leading to a significant escalation of conflict within communities.

 

To protect the overall well-being of our community, we must work together to promote food security in our city. An ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure.

 

Creating A Food Secure Omaha

 

Food insecurity is a problem we can solve in Omaha by developing the right community partnerships, implementing solid public policy, and taking immediate action.  When looking at comparable metropolitan areas to Omah, the common difference is the other cities have a more vibrant local food scene. By investing in food security initiatives we are promoting economic development in Omaha.

 

Promote Food Literacy

 

Food literacy is the knowledge acquired to understand how food choice impacts your health, the environment, and the local economy. Food literacy programs provide education for people to understand the nutrient value of their food so they can make more informed choices. Food literacy programs also help educate people about local food supply chains and promotes engagement in food production and distribution. I plan to support food literacy programs to improve local food security through the following means:

 

  •  Increase funding to food literacy programs within Omaha Public Schools (OPS), so children can learn how to choose safe, healthy, and nutritious food.

  • Partner with local organizations such as No More Empty Pots, The Big Garden, City Sprouts and Whispering Roots, to sponsor food education events across the community.

  • Develop a series of regular educational events for community leaders that assess the various issues impacting the local food system to develop more robust and informed policy.

  • Support the local food economy by providing tool-kits to help aid food suppliers in endeavors that support food security like land acquisition for food production, regulations that impact food-based businesses, and how to fund development.

 

Support Urban Agriculture

Establishing a strong supply chain of localized food is essential to ensuring Omaha’s food security. Though surrounded by agricultural lands, much of the food produced around Omaha is sent out of state or is produced for animals. Further, the residents most in need of the fresh produce grown in Nebraska do not have access. Through the implementation of urban agriculture, we can strengthen local food supply chains and ensure there is equitable access for all residents. Furthermore, urban agriculture creates good jobs, increases property values of the neighborhood, and supports the overall health of the environment. I plan to promote urban agriculture to combat food insecurity through the following:

 

  • EcoOmaha has established some incredible building blocks to support urban agriculture and I will continue to build upon their plan by establishing an Office of Urban Agriculture so more citizens will get involved in localized food production and distribution.

  • A study commissioned by No More Empty Pots found that the fresh food industry has an economic impact of $4 billion in our community, with only 10% of that coming back to local farmers. Investments in local farmers by a 1.5 times multiplier would give Omaha a much larger piece of that market and keep the dollars in our community longer.

  • Advocate to advance the permanence of community garden spaces and farmers markets, while providing more opportunity for engagement in community-based food production. 

  • Provide economic empowerment for urban farmers utilizing both traditional farming methods and advanced technologies, such as regenerative farming practices, green roofs, aquaponics, and vertical farming all of which combat negative climate impacts.

 

Partnering With Schools/Public Institutions

 

Food security is extremely important for children, as healthy, nutritious food is fundamental to early childhood development. Furthermore, children do not have the ability to work to change their circumstances and many children rely on school lunch programs for their only meal. Working with Omaha Public Schools (OPS), and local organizations, I plan to work to increase food security for underserved youth and their caretakers by:

  • Developing a campaign to promote school breakfast and after school snack programs to resource limited households in area school districts.

  • Work with area districts to expand the curriculum of the ongoing nutritional programs.

 

Support Emergency Food Providers

 

Emergency food providers like food pantries and soup kitchens are vital to providing food security to low income and underserved households. They are also an important provider of food during emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2019 floods. Ensuring these facilities have the inventory they need to meet any challenge must be a top priority of the Omaha City Council. I intend to help build these networks to be more secure by:

 

  • Creating robust local food programs to combat the efforts at the state and federal levels to reduce, limit, and stigmatize essential food programs such as SNAP, WIC, and others.

  • Supporting centralized community food hubs and pantries, which have the flexibility to be responsive to community needs in times of crisis.

  • Increasing funding for home delivered meals and mobile food banks to reach individuals who are disabled, elderly, or have other mobility limitations. 

 

Develop Strategies For Food Waste Prevention

 

It is estimated that 40% of all food grown in the United States is thrown away before it is eaten. Saving just ⅓ of the food wasted would feed all 41 million food-insecure Americans. Though overproduction and food waste is a national issue, the impact is felt locally. By preventing food waste locally, we can stock the food pantries and ensure more access for all our residents. I will work diligently to help reduce food waste through:

 

  • Legislation to require city agencies with food procurement contracts to create food waste prevention plans.

  • Removing any existing policy barriers to the safe donation of excess food.

  • Developing networks between producers and distributors to ensure excess food can be donated rather than thrown away. 

 

Taking a multi-phased approach, that improves localized production, increases access, and enriches nutrition education, will ensure that all Omaha residents have the safe and nutritious food they need to live a healthy life.

Recommended Reading On The Impact Of Food Insecurity In Omaha:

Resource For Food Insecure Individuals:​

 

No More Empty Pots (NMEP)

The program offers individually packaged scratch made plant-based meals by NMEP's culinary staff and volunteers. The program also offers fresh produce boxes. The food is distributed weekly. Any participant can request as many meals as needed for their household. NMEP also supplies a pantry box in collaboration with Together, Inc. If there are other items needed, they try to include those too (toothbrushes, incontinence supplies, etc.)

Learn more at: 

 

Feeding Our Neighbors 

https://nmepomaha.org/feeding-our-neighbors/

420.690.0888

Community Harvest:

​​communityharvest@nmepomaha.org,

402.690.0888 

https://nmepomaha.org/community-harvest-meals/

Cammy for Council

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PO BOX 644

Omaha NE 68101

Email: hello@cammy4council.com

Phone: (402) 279-4100

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