Voices for Food program looking to expand into more counties

Voices for Food, a program developed by a multi-state Extension team, provides tools and resources to promote healthy food access and food security. It aims to bring together, empower, and amplify the many voices necessary to improve the food security and well-being of those living within impoverished communities. 

Now, the program is looking to expand into more counties for 2020, particularly rural communities. Internal funds are available for Extension offices who are interested in implementing Voices for Food.

“Limited resources often challenge food insecure populations to have healthy dietary patterns, increasing the risks for obesity and diet-related chronic diseases,” explained Dr. Dan Remley, who leads the program.

“The healthcare costs associated with chronic diseases often further limit people’s financial resources, compounding their food insecurity. In addition, acquiring healthy foods and managing food dollars can be especially challenging in impoverished rural communities that lack full-service grocery stores, markets, and other food services.”

Remley added that community organizations, food pantries, and food insecure families do not always engage with one another to address these challenges. Consequently, communities miss opportunities when they do not capitalize on local human, natural, and financial resources to address health and food insecurity.

“The success of this project depends on the collective impact of the voices present in the community:  the food sectors, food pantries, churches, schools, local government agencies, food insecure families, volunteers and other community champions,” he said. “All community members have valuable abilities, unique experiences, and vital ideas to contribute.”

PROGRAM OBJECTIVES:
Through changes in policies, systems, and environments: 

  • Participants will choose healthier food options and adopt healthier eating practices.
  • Participants will access resources and services to improve their household food insecurity.
  • Participants will become more aware and engaged in food systems & activities.

Internal Extension funds

  • Financial support (up to $10,000) for over three years is available for Extension offices to implement Voices for Food activities. Extension offices selected for the project will be responsible for submitting a yearly budget proposal for consideration. A committee of Extension professionals will decide upon which items to fund. Funding might support:
  • Developing or strengthening a community food council
  • Developing or strengthening MyChoice food pantries
  • Training Voices for Food Ambassadors to promote nutrition and food safety within the community and MyChoice food pantries
  • Implementing affiliated policies, systems, and environmental changes
  • Awardees will have access to Voices for Food guides, toolkits and materials.
  • The state Voices for Food team will provide training, coaching and peer support to all awardees.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO APPLY? 
Extension offices who have SNAPed, or an EFNEP educator and at least one educator representing 4H, Ag, Community Development, or Family and Consumer Sciences are eligible. One Extension educator or coordinator must agree to serve as a community coach. In addition, applicants should preferably identify a food pantry director and a food council chair within the community as partners within the application.

Requirements

  • Awardees will be required to adhere to the following grant project requirements: 
  • Awardees will send a representative to a 1-day training in community coaching, facilitation and the Voices for Food project.
  • All members of the local project team will attend a webinar training on the Voices for Food Project.
  • Each community coach will attend a monthly webinar to discuss project activities and troubleshoot problems.
  • Awardees must submit a basic end-of-project report using SNAPed indicators, pictures and stories. The state Voices for Food team will use this information eventually in a Story Map.
  • Awardees shall submit a project budget request once a year for funding consideration. 

HOW TO APPLY
Contact Dr. Dan Remley by calling 740-289-2071 ext. 241 or by emailing remley.4@osu.edu.

NOTIFICATION AND AWARD FULFILLMENT 
A committee of Extension professionals who have received training in Voices for Food will review the applications. The committee will notify successful applicants by February 14, 2020 via email.  A webinar training will share additional information about the project.