Kristin Weber

The Kern Food Policy Council was formed in 2013 with a vision to end food insecurity in Kern County. The group strives toward creating a healthy and sustainable food system through three core strategies: access, advocacy and education.

The United Way of Kern County and Community Action Partnership of Kern provide structural support for the council. The Kern Food Policy Council is governed by a steering committee, with 13 members who represent a wide range of entities from public agencies, nonprofit health care organizations, community-based organizations, food justice advocates, the private sector, and local schools and colleges. The steering committee convenes monthly and members also participate in working groups, that focus on special issues.

Kern County is a top producer in agriculture and food products, yet home to the hungriest metropolitan statistical area in America, with 24.2 percent of its population experiencing food insecurity, according to the Food Research & Action Center. The good news: It’s down from 2012’s high of 26.7 percent.

That doesn’t make sense to a lot of people in our community and there is real momentum to figure out why and how that can be solved.

Currently, the council has commissioned an assessment on the food system in Kern County. With leadership from UC Davis and participation from local community-based organizations, farming, and many other business and community leaders, the council will use this assessment to develop long-term strategies and solutions to some of Kern’s most critical food systems issues.

The assessment will be available for public comment on United Way of Kern County’s website by early May.

“This is a determined group of community leaders from various sectors related to various food industries — agriculture, health, community planning and agribusiness — who are working tirelessly on behalf of the citizens of Kern County to create a strong food system that will provide for and support the needs of our ever-growing community,” said Jill Egland, United Way of Kern County vice president of community impact.

For information on how you can become involved in shaping the future of the food system in Kern County, log on to kernfoodpolicy.org or check us out on Facebook.

— Kristin Weber is the senior community benefit specialist at Kaiser Permanente and serves on the steering committee of the Kern Food Policy Council. In her role at Kaiser Permanente, she serves as a link between community organizations and Kaiser Permanente.

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