Access to Healthy Food

The Issue:

In Central Texas, there are both distribution and affordability problems that prevent fresh, nutritious food from being abundantly available in the communities St. David’s Foundation prioritizes. On the flip side, highly processed convenience food is often overly abundant for busy families stretched on dollars and time and living in neighborhoods with limited healthy food assets.

The dual challenge of obesity and food insecurity now co-occur in the same communities and even the same families.  One practical definition of food insecurity that resonates with St. David’s Foundation is “a household’s inability to provide enough food for every person to live an active, healthy life.”  While not every food security solution prioritizes healthy food and not every healthy food solution prioritizes those who are food insecure, in order to be effective in our Access to Healthy Food work, St. David’s Foundation strives to understand where the issues come together and where our community investments can address the related challenges.

Our Plan:

Our goal is to more systemically increase access to food options that center whole or minimally-processed fresh food in ways that are culturally appropriate and delicious.

Who We Serve:

Our access to healthy food work will serve the 17% of Central Texas residents in households that are considered food insecure.  Food insecurity is higher among children, communities of color, rural populations, and senior populations. Because low income children who participate in the National School Lunch Program eat up to 50% of their meals and calories at school, and because school districts offer a mechanism to reach the majority of children in a community, our work will prioritize Title I school systems where at least 50% of students are economically disadvantaged.  That’s 28 out of the 46 public school systems (ISDs and charters) in St. David’s Foundation’s five counties. Some community food investments that serve food pantry users and retail shoppers will round out our efforts.

How We Will Do It:

Our approach to healthy food includes:

  • Increasing the capacity of school systems to improve the nutrition, quality and “kid appeal” of food offerings, including incorporating more scratch cooking and fresh, whole ingredients.  Our investments will prioritize system-wide changes over changes at individual campus levels
  • Increasing the opportunities for schools to bridge gains in the school food environment with the family and community food environments by connecting families with community-based fresh affordable food resources
  • Helping to increase the capacity of the local food bank/food pantry system to meet their goal of distributing 50% fresh produce by 2020 for the 17% of Central Texas households served by food banks
  • Using incentives in effective ways to reduce the cost of fresh food where low income consumers prefer to shop
  • Prioritizing investments that are data-informed, have the potential for a scaled impact, and that are sustainable

For More Information

Vanessa Rocha, Grants Coordinator (Interim)