Food Council Development in Rural Communities: A Toolkit for Extension Educators

PI: Kendra Wills (Michigan State University)
Co-PI: Jodee Ellett (Purdue University)
Award: $11,000

Project Abstract

The rural Midwest is scattered with small towns affected by poverty, hunger and a lack of community services and events. Local food efforts have begun to address some of these issues in rural communities. New farmers markets create greater access to healthier foods. Young food and farming entrepreneurs build the economic base and enhance quality of life. Extension often takes a leadership role in small/rural communities and the diversity of demands on an Educator can be broad. Agricultural and food issues can be complex and controversial in some communities and the need for Extension to have a facilitative leadership role is increasing. We seek to enhance this new role for Extension by creating and piloting a food council development curriculum that will guide our new and seasoned Educators in a six-month process with an engaged group of community members and leaders. This peer-reviewed guidebook will have information relevant to local food and food council development, areas of further study for the convening group and meeting outlines for the six-month development process. We will pilot this guidebook in two rural communities (Michigan and Indiana) and revise accordingly. Evaluation of this guidebook will come from the pilot community groups in the project. We will survey the group at the onset and after completion of the pilot to determine efficacy and impact.