Food accessibility concerns prompt meeting
COLUMBIA - The Urban Farm harvests more than 17,000 pounds of food every year, but the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture (CCUA) is looking for public feedback to improve that even more.
A "Community Conversations" meeting will be held Thursday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Activity and Recreation Center (ARC).
The meeting will discuss the results of a survey conducted last spring about the cost, healthiness and accessibility of local food. It will also provide dinner to all attendees.
Billy Polansky, the executive director of the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture, said the goal of the meeting is to get more input from the community on what the CCUA can improve.
"If we can get the community to look at these and start to propose some solutions, like the next steps of how do we address some of the issues surrounding food in the community."
Polansky said the ideas proposed in the meeting could potentially kick-start a pilot program using grant funding. If an idea or concern is continually brought up, the CCUA could use the grant to create a program to help solve the problem.
Transportation to food and knowing how to cultivate your own garden are top concerns Polansky said he has heard during previous similar meetings.
Kate Wadley visited the CCUA's Urban Farm Wednesday near downtown Columbia and said learning how to harvest food yourself is a skill that is important to learn, even if you live in an urban area.
"It's kind of good to take a step back and realize how all these fresh ingredients can come together. It's like instant gratification because then you can see how much you harvested."
Polansky said the discussions and information learned in the meeting can also help the county health department and the local food banks.
"There's lots of different groups and people available that will have this report and this information available to them and will hopefully spark good change in our community."
Another meeting will be held June 18, also at the ARC from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.