Lehigh Valley Fresh Foods

Fresh Food Virtual Townhall

The Greater Lehigh Valley chapter of Buy Fresh Buy Local (BFBL-GLV), a program of the Nurture Nature Center in Easton, PA, is acting as a sub-awardee under the Sustainable Communities Grant to develop a Fresh Food Access Plan (FFAP) for the Lehigh Valley.  In November 2013 the group released the Assessment Report of the current state of the Lehigh Valley food economy. This report is on the Documents Tab of this web page.  This was coordinated with five public meetings or “Food Forums”.  The next step is to develop a strategies plan to improve this economy in the future.

The Food Forum Presentation is viewable on You Tube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gmEHDe9p90

BFBL-GLV has created an advisory board to guide development of the FFAP comprised of the following persons:

Kate Brandes, Environmental Scientist, Nurture Nature Center
Rachel Hogan Carr, Director, Nurture Nature Center
Benjamin Cohen, Assistant Professor, Engineering Studies, Lafayette College
Peter Crownfield, Alliance for Sustainable Communities
Michele Deegan, Associate Professor of Political Science, Muhlenberg College; Director, Lehigh Valley Research Consortium
Tianna Dupont, Sustainable Agriculture Educator, Penn State Cooperative Extension, Northampton and Lehigh Counties
Jeff Frank, Farmer, Liberty Gardens
Brian Moyer, Program Assistant, Penn State Cooperative Extension, Lehigh County; PASA Board member
Chris Ruebeck, Associate Professor of Economics, Lafayette College
Jeff Zehr, Director of Farmland Preservation, Lehigh County

Fresh Food Access Plan

Buy Fresh Buy Local in the Greater Lehigh ValleyThe Greater Lehigh Valley chapter of Buy Fresh Buy Local (BFBL-GLV), a program of the Nurture Nature Center in Easton, PA, is acting as a sub-awardee under the Sustainable Communities Grant to develop a Fresh Food Access Plan (FFAP) for the Lehigh Valley.  The FFAP will include both an Assessment Report of the current state of the Lehigh Valley food economy and a strategies plan to improve this economy in the future.
 
BFBL-GLV has created an advisory board to guide development of the FFAP comprised of the following persons:
 
Kate Brandes, Environmental Scientist, Nurture Nature Center
Rachel Hogan Carr, Director, Nurture Nature Center
Benjamin Cohen, Assistant Professor, Engineering Studies, Lafayette College
Peter Crownfield, Alliance for Sustainable Communities
Michele Deegan, Associate Professor of Political Science, Muhlenberg College; Director, Lehigh Valley Research Consortium
Tianna Dupont, Sustainable Agriculture Educator, Penn State Cooperative Extension, Northampton and Lehigh Counties
Jeff Frank, Farmer, Liberty Gardens
Brian Moyer, Program Assistant, Penn State Cooperative Extension, Lehigh County; PASA Board member
Chris Ruebeck, Associate Professor of Economics, Lafayette College
Jeff Zehr, Director of Farmland Preservation, Lehigh County

This group is currently writing the chapters of the FFAP, which will be available to the public by November 2013 prior to the public meetings to be held in the fall.  The report will be posted here on the website, so stay tuned!

Lehigh Valley Local Food Economy Assessment

In order to create the FFAP, BFBL-GLV is currently developing an Assessment Report of our current local food economy.  This report will cover the following topics:
  1. Lehigh Valley Consumers:  Who We Are and What We Eat;
  2. Our Current Food Production;
  3. Access to Fresh Foods in the Lehigh Valley;
  4. Food Supply Chain & Infrastructure for Locally Grown Foods;
  5. The Environmental Impacts of Our Food Choices; and
  6. Local Food Economics.

Consumers

There are about 650,000 people living here in the Lehigh Valley, including significant minority and low-income populations.  These demographics raise issues that will need to be considered in FFAP.
 
In looking at what we are eating, we are spending a smaller percentage of our income on food each year and spending more on “other food” than ever before:  one third of the average grocery bill is spent on prepared foods, sweeteners, candy, non-dairy fats like shortening and margarine, oils, snack foods, and soda.

Food Production

The Lehigh Valley has been losing farms and farmland at an alarming rate.  According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture, there are only 1002 farms and 153,000 acres remaining.  Both counties have been working to preserve farmland:  at present, 363 farms (32,000 acres) have been preserved in the two counties.

There is also an issue of whether there will be enough farmers in future years. 
 
Farming has been on a decline throughout  in the Lehigh Valley

Access to Fresh Foods
 
Fresh produce from local growersWe have eight designated food deserts in the Lehigh Valley.  The USDA defines a food desert according to census tracts.  Communities qualify as food deserts if they meet two criteria:
  1. low-income communities (a poverty rate of 20 percent or more); and
  2. low-access communities (at least 33% of the population lives greater than1 mile from a large grocery store).
You can view a map of the country's food deserts and zoom into the Lehigh Valley at the USDA website.
Food Supply Chain & Infrastructure
 
The report will look at the assortment of businesses and relationships involved in moving food from our local farms to our tables.  While we’ve been having great success with direct sales from our local farms to consumers, we are not doing so well getting local foods to wholesale buyers.  Infrastructure is critical to move local food to wholesale buyers.  We will examine what we have and need in terms of infrastructure to scale up our local food system.
 
Environmental issues that matter to the Lehigh ValleyEnvironmental Issues
The choices we make about the food we eat have a direct effect on our land and water.  Environmental issues include pollutants from animal waste products, chemical run-off, soil erosion, and water and energy use. 
 
Economics
Consumers in the Lehigh Valley spend $1.5 billion on food each year; less than one percent of this is purchased directly from our local farms.  The result is that most of our food dollars are leaving our region through purchase of food imports.  By increasing the amount of food purchased from our local growers, we can help make farming more profitable and ensure that farmland & healthy, flavorful food will be available for future generations.  At the same time, we will also be investing our food dollars in our local economy and creating jobs here in the Lehigh Valley.

Public Input

On Thursday, July 26th, the Nurture Nature Center held a Local Food Forum in which Lehigh Valley residents were able to share their ideas and concerns about our local food economy.  These issues will be incorporated into the Assessment Report.  It is expected that the Report will be completed early in 2013.  Once the Report is complete, focus groups and forums will be held around the Lehigh Valley asking for public input to create the final plan for moving forward.
Fresh Food Forum in the Lehigh Valley
 Addtional public meetings will be held in the fall of 2013.  Envision Lehigh Valley will also be out at farmers' markets throughout the Lehigh Valley during September 2013 to promote the Fresh Food Access Plan and upcoming public meetings, while getting input about fresh food access from residents.  Stay tuned for specific dates and locations.
EnvisionLV 3-24-14 - Buy Fresh Buy Local LV
EnvisionLV 3-24-2014 - Community Conversation Highlights
Lehigh Valley Fresh Food Forum
Lehigh Valley Mirror
 
Summit for Smart Growth and Sustainable Communities
10/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
Sigal Museum
Sign up for our mailing list and we will keep you informed about how you can help change your community for the better!

Topic(s) of Interest: