Presentation Title

Anchor Institutions Role in Food System Resilience

Project Collaborators

David Conner, Amy Kelsey, Travis Reynolds, Jane Kolodinsky

Abstract

There is overwhelming evidence that climate change will lead to stronger and more frequent natural disasters. Therefore, it is increasingly important to develop more resilient food systems that are better able to mitigate and rebound after shocks. As some of the largest actors in regional food systems anchor institutions, such as hospitals and universities, can contribute to these goals. Tropical storm Irene in Vermont (2011) and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico (2017) both highlighted the vulnerabilities of the food systems of these regions. The destruction of critical infrastructures, such as roads, bridges, electricity, and other utilities after extreme weather events (EWE), leaves communities more vulnerable to food insecurity. We used thematic analysis of focus-groups conducted with leaders at anchor institutions working to improve food system resilience, including institutional foodservice and technical assistance providers, to assess the current role and areas of improvement for anchor institutions to aid in resilience development. Preliminary results show that there are several barriers to supporting local food systems and increasing food system resilience, including high transaction costs associated with procuring local foods and labor shortages. Asset mapping, and finding opportunities to convert existing purchases to local were seen as important first steps in increasing local procurement. This project, in conjunction with additional research being conducted by the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez, will contribute to the overall goal of the research, which is to create a toolkit of recommended practices to be published on the eXtension and EDEN website in both English and Spanish

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

David Conner

Status

Graduate

Student College

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Program/Major

Community Development and Applied Economics

Primary Research Category

Food & Environment Studies

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Anchor Institutions Role in Food System Resilience

There is overwhelming evidence that climate change will lead to stronger and more frequent natural disasters. Therefore, it is increasingly important to develop more resilient food systems that are better able to mitigate and rebound after shocks. As some of the largest actors in regional food systems anchor institutions, such as hospitals and universities, can contribute to these goals. Tropical storm Irene in Vermont (2011) and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico (2017) both highlighted the vulnerabilities of the food systems of these regions. The destruction of critical infrastructures, such as roads, bridges, electricity, and other utilities after extreme weather events (EWE), leaves communities more vulnerable to food insecurity. We used thematic analysis of focus-groups conducted with leaders at anchor institutions working to improve food system resilience, including institutional foodservice and technical assistance providers, to assess the current role and areas of improvement for anchor institutions to aid in resilience development. Preliminary results show that there are several barriers to supporting local food systems and increasing food system resilience, including high transaction costs associated with procuring local foods and labor shortages. Asset mapping, and finding opportunities to convert existing purchases to local were seen as important first steps in increasing local procurement. This project, in conjunction with additional research being conducted by the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez, will contribute to the overall goal of the research, which is to create a toolkit of recommended practices to be published on the eXtension and EDEN website in both English and Spanish