Needs Assessment/Mapping Team Update – August 10, 2011

Sylvia Neely

Report from Sylvia Neely – PA-IPL & Creation Care Coalition:

Food Security – Needs & Mapping Team Meeting held at 7 p.m. on August 8, 2011, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. (Next Needs Assessment/Mapping Team Meeting will be Tuesday, August 23, at 7 p.m. at St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Room 324)

Attending the Aug. 8 Meeting: Previous participants – Rachel Mateti, Sylvia Neely, Bill Sharp, Jackie Bonomo, Linda Tataliba, Anna Kochersperger; New participants – Dorothy Blair, Mark Maloney.

For the sake of the new participants, we reviewed the history of the group and discussed the connection between the Needs Assessment/Mapping Team and the Fundraising/Building Team.

  • The Fundraising/Building Team is focusing on immediate action to incorporate and to find land for community gardens.
  • The Needs and Mapping Team will assess the long term needs of the community and develop a strategy for moving toward food security.

We discussed the survey of priorities: what essential information do we need to gather first, what kinds of questions should we be asking, what should we include? Do we define our boundary by watershed/foodshed or by political unit?

Dorothy Blair

Dorothy Blair  – Penn State Nutrition professor – said that statistics of the kind we are looking for do not really exist. There are farm production statistics, but not how much of the production stays here.




Linda Tataliba

The U. S. census has definitions on food security and sustainability. Linda Tataliba – Executive Director of the State College Area Food Bank – will send us links to those documents.

At our previous meeting (July 25) we discussed creating an insert into the fall CDT back-to-college issue that would show local resources. Our long term goal should be establishing a local/regional community food policy.

Mark Maloney – owner of organic CSA Greenmoore Gardens – suggested approaching our task by determining our population, then finding the minimum acreage and labor person hours required to produce food for them. We need also to consider seasonality by month, storage capacity, canning, etc. We need to consider different food categories – acreage, poundage—Dairy, Meat,Veggies, Fruits, Grains.

Bill Sharp

Bill Sharp – Transition Town State College, Clearwater’s GardenStarters & more – noted that over 99% of the food that people eat can be grown in Centre County. But almost no grain is locally grown because mills are not available. He pointed out the existence of a mill in Lamar, Snavely’s Flour Mill, but it mostly produces white flour from mid-west grains.


Jackie Bonomo

Jackie Bonomo – Healing Ground Permaculture Design – mentioned that there is some local grain production: Irvin Farm grows oats and wheat. Issues: can local grain production be increased? Can mills process small batches? Now farmers do not grow grain because it cannot be milled. Is there storage?

Mark Maloney noted that he is creating a CSK, community supported kitchen, on his farm. We need spaces to process foods for storage.

Bill Sharp suggested we focus on the following questions:

  • How much do we need?
  • How much do we produce?
  • How to get more local food?

One difficulty in assessing the statistics available online is that they do not always reflect what actually happens to food. For example, Linda Tataliba reported that the Food Bank receives food that is officially labeled as wastage, though it can be distributed to their customers. Policies limit what they can use. Recalls complicate their work.

Anna Kochersperger suggested mobile facilities for slaughtering, canning, and milling. Producers might not always be able to come to a fixed location.

We also need a central site where restaurant owners can meet farmers to purchase food in an efficient way, as suggested by Dave Cranage – Penn State Hospitality Management professor – at the first meeting (June 24 State College Food Security Summit).

We discussed the question of why people would be willing to eat local rather than using the local supermarket. Here are answers to the question “Why Eat Local?”

  • freshest
  • money stays within the community
  • best taste (easiest to ship rarely equals best flavor)
  • more democratic/civic equity
  • fewer losses/waste
  • know farmer – personal relationship
  • lower carbon footprint
  • food connectedness – known circle of life

Bill Sharp talked about the availability of Fresh Food Stores within a 25 mile circle, 50 mile circle, and 100 mile circle. He noted that the kind of report that we are seeking to create will be something new. Although statistics exist at the state level (Montana is one example), local areas are less studied. Other places to look at: Cornell NY; Portland, OR; Hardwick, VT.

Resources available online:

  • Happy Valley website has all CSA’s listed, numbers of members (although these will doubtless need to be updated). [Link needed]
  • Feeding America site has information about repurposed donation to food banks.

Dorothy Blair suggested getting students involved in helping with this work. At our next meeting, we will focus on:

  • defining the area we will survey,
  • making an initial list of information to gather,
  • determining which of those items can be usefully gathered with the help of students.

Sylvia Neely noted that the Rock Ethics Institute is presenting a series on food ethics this year. Here is the website for the program.

She also announced that the annual meeting and conference of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light will include consideration of food. Held on September 18, the conference theme is “The Human Face of Climate Change: Food, Faith, and Other Necessities of Life.” Here is the program.

Next Needs Assessment/Mapping Team Meeting

  • AUGUST 23, at 7 p.m. at St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Room 324 (the library)

Greenmoore Gardens Public Event:

  • August 24 at 6:30 p.m. – Pizza Night – All are invited (Rain Date: Aug. 26)
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