Utah Legislature Calls on Local Nutrition Coalition in Fight Against Food Insecurity

Posted by Sandra MacMartin, Public Affairs Specialist with Guest Author Paul Birkbeck, SNAP Program Specialist, Utah Department of Workforce Services for Food and Nutrition Security

August 01, 2022

My name is Paul Birkbeck and I have worked with SNAP for 26 years and have had the honor of chairing the State Nutrition Action Coalition (SNAC) of Utah for the past eight years. Across the United States, SNACs are an innovative and collaborative strategy to improve community health through partnerships. I am impressed with the passion and dedication of our nutrition partners in Utah.

In 2020, Utah State Senator Luz Escamilla introduced a bill to create a Food Security Task Force to develop a plan to establish food security in the state. The task force was formed in 2021. In July 2022, our SNAC was renamed “The Food Security Council” and its membership was expanded to include the Department of Agriculture, the Farm Bureau and representatives from the resettlement services refugees, tribal governments and higher education. . Utah’s SNAC already included representatives from SNAP-Ed, the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), WIC, the Department of Health, Get Healthy Utah, Utahns Against Hunger and the state agency SNAP.

The goal of one of the three working groups of the Food Security Task Force, Policy and Access to Safe Foods, is to identify policy barriers that prevent low-income individuals and families from participating in federal programs. nutrition, and identify opportunities to increase access to fresh and whole foods as part of healthy eating habits. Recent data from the USDA Economic Research Service shows that one in 10 households in Utah experience food insecurity. While Utah overall is near the national average for poverty, the problem is concentrated in rural areas. Additionally, food insecurity disproportionately affects children, female single-parent households, the elderly, Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color.

The other members of the Food Security Task Force and I are excited to take on this challenge and work together to eliminate food insecurity across Beehive State! The creation of our task force was just the first of many steps this broad group of partners will take to implement sustainable policy solutions that will increase access to food for all Utahans.

Food and nutrition Nutrition security

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