A Comprehensive Gaps and Asset Analysis in Children’s and Families’ Food Security Programs in the Monadnock Region
The Monadnock Region Food Access Analysis (MRFAA) was conducted by Southwest Region Planning Commission during the spring of 2021 on behalf of the Monadnock Children’s Food Access Alliance (MCFAA), led by the Monadnock Farm and Community Coalition (MFCC).
Several findings include:
– Childhood food insecurity rates in Cheshire and Sullivan counties are higher than the state average
– Lower-income food insecure people who are not eligible for SNAP have difficulty buying food
– Lack of transportation, specifically, lack of a car, is the number two risk factor for food insecurity. The towns of Keene, Peterborough, Alstead, Sullivan, and Swanzey have the highest percentages of households without vehicles
“We knew prior to the COVID-19 pandemic that food security and access programs in our region were underused,” says Roe-Ann Tasoulas, MCFAA coordinator. “The pandemic accelerated the need for a gap and asset analysis of all food access programs, and to connect directly with individuals and families experiencing food insecurity to better increase opportunities to access affordable, healthy food and participation in programs.”
The MCFAA is a diverse network of partners committed to improving the overall health of children and families in the Monadnock Region through increasing access to affordable, healthy food. Partners include: farm service organizations, extension educators, food pantry managers, public health representatives, food policy experts, and educators.
The County of Cheshire worked with the MCFAA to submit a grant proposal to the NH Children’s Health Foundation to implement a food access analysis in Fall 2020. The grant was awarded and the SW Region Planning Commission was chosen to implement the analysis. The MRFAA is the resulting report.
Both quantitative and qualitative methods were used to identify and analyze the prevalence of household food insecurity. Over 196 participants were interviewed or surveyed to gather relevant data. Food access points, programs, and services, and the connection between them were mapped, and food system models and best practices were included in the report.
“The food access analysis revealed that poverty is far and away the number one predictor of food insecurity for children and families” states Terry Johnson, Southwest Region Planning Commission. “Prior to the pandemic, 40% of food insecure children living in poverty in Cheshire County didn’t qualify for federal food assistance because they didn’t meet the eligibility requirements.”
The MCFAA will use report findings to develop a 2022-2023 Food Access Plan that addresses key findings and identified gaps in programs and services. “With both poverty and food insecurity rates increasing during the pandemic, creative solutions are needed more than ever,” continues Johnson.
To receive a copy of the MRFAA report, download it here or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The public is invited to attend “2021 Monadnock Region Food Access Report Virtual Community Forum” on Tuesday, October 19, 2021, 5:30pm – 7:30pm. Participants will become familiar with the key findings from the MRFAA report, hear feedback from individuals experiencing food insecurity, and provide input on projects that best address gaps for 2022-2023 implementation.
To register by phone, call (603)852-3198. Following the forum, a recording of the keynote speaker will be uploaded to: http://mfcommunitycoalition.org.
Funding for the MRFAA report was provided by the New Hampshire Children’s Health Foundation.