Local leaders will meet at the Alumni Center to discuss possible improvements to food availability.
The meeting on Oct. 26, called the Local Food Summit, is organized by Purdue Extension in partnership with Delaware County and East Central Indiana food leaders, including Edible Muncie and the Hoosier Food Harvest in an effort to connect the local food community in Muncie and East Central Indiana.
"It's a really important thing for Muncie to address these issues," Margaret "Markie" Oliver, president of Edible Muncie, said.
The goal of the Local Food Summit is to pitch possible solutions to the food insecurities and combine resources to work toward those new goals. For instance, the Indy Food Council paired up with Indianapolis-area colleges and universities to create the Indy Food Fellows, a group of students who work to increase health and sustainability in Indianapolis.
Local Food Summit's objectives, according to the Building Better Neighborhoods organization, are:
- Launching discussions and networking opportunities for food-concerned individuals and groups.
- Gathering input from the community to identify and develop economic opportunities.
- Creating solutions for increasing food access.
- Coordinating grassroots food efforts to amplify impact.
- Establishing a regional food council to shape local food policy and actions.
The need is great for local solutions to food insecurity in Muncie. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Delaware County has a poverty rate of 22 percent, greater than the national average of 14 percent. These statistics directly correlate with the rate of food insecurity, especially when dealing with college students, Oliver said.
"It's harder, I think, now than what it was for us in the '70s and '80s because of the economy," Oliver said. "I've talked with a lot of students over the years who, because of some, you know, disagreement with their parents and they're now living off campus, their parents stopped funding them. And finding employment is not always easy and trying to work the number of hours you need to work while being a full-time student is very difficult."
Oliver also said that college students can struggle with food insecurity when the live off campus, and that Edible Muncie works with Cardinal Kitchen to combat it.
"There's a need, and when you live on campus, you don't notice your needs as much. So you move off campus and the cost of rent, utilities, everything else, limited income, becomes very difficult," Oliver said. "So students have the right to use a food pantry and should use a food pantry whenever they need to."
The Local Food Summit will meet from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.