The COVID-19 pandemic brought many challenges to Olmsted County, including adding stress to the food system and residents’ access to affordable, healthy food. But it has also shown ways we can pivot, innovate, and ensure every family in Olmsted County has plenty of food on the dinner table. This presentation will walk through some of the findings of the 2021 Olmsted County Food Security Assessment, with a focus on the challenges and opportunities to create a more just local food system. With highlights of creative programs and policies pioneered in Olmsted County and communities across the US, we will have time to envision what a more socially and environmentally sustainable food system looks like for the future.
Matthew Gabb is the Program & Research Coordinator at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment. Matthew’s AmeriCorps service in East Tennessee brought them to the University of Minnesota, where they received a Master of Urban & Regional Planning, with a focus on food systems and community-driven planning. While a graduate student, Matthew was the project lead and principal investigator for the Olmsted County Food Security Assessment, and currently serves on the board of the American Planning Association Food Systems Division.
Anna Oldenburg is a Community Health Specialist with Olmsted County Public Health. In this role, Anna focuses on establishing relationships within the community by working with cross-sector partners to improve the environments in which we all live, work, play, and learn. Most of her work is done through the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) grant which implements strategies aimed at chronic disease prevention through policy, systems, and environmental changes. She is most proud of the collaborative accomplishments she was fortunate to be a part of including the passing of Tobacco 21 legislation in Olmsted County, the growth of The Village Agricultural Cooperative, a local organization providing land and opportunity to refugee and immigrant farmers, and the completion of the 2021 Olmsted County Food Security Assessment.