Right now, food security assistance is a patchwork that extends between the Departments of Agriculture, Human Services, Family Care and Services, and Education. It also includes community, public, and private aid. This network means Georgians do not starve, but it has not worked at removing the underlying causes of food insecurity.
50+ stakeholders presented before the 2021 Senate Study Committee on Improving Access to Healthy Foods and Ending Food Deserts, including Science for Georgia, who presented results of our Food Insecurity Roundtable.
One way to prevent gaps and overlap is to develop local community task forces that coordinate activities, information, and access to programs addressing food insecurity across Georgia. By coordinating all organizations that focus on this issue, it is easier for people to utilize programs that already exist and prevents overlapping efforts.
Science for Georgia’s interns developed an overview about starting a Community Food Council. This guide has a getting started checklist and list of initial activities. most importantly, it provides links to more in-depth resources.
SB 537 – Georgia Food Insecurity Eradication Act
Building on the Senate Study Committee’s Final Report, a bi-partisan bill, SB 537, was introduced in 2022 by Sen Harold Jones, II (D-22), Sen Russ Goodman (R-8), Sen Lester Jackson (D-2), Sen Freddie Sims (D-12), Sen Michael Rett (D-33), Sen Billy Hickman (R-4), and Sen Elana Parent (D-42).
This bi-partisan bill would establish an Advisory Council with representatives from Agriculture, Labor, Schools, DFACS, GA Chamber of Commerce, universities, health systems, community development, farmers markets, science, food policy councils, grocery stores, local leadership, farmers, and food bank operators.
It’s mission would be to:
- Understand regulatory solutions to WIC barriers
- Explore tax incentives for new food stores in deserts
- Maximize existing education programs
- Maximize existing funding efforts for food relief
- Expand the number of farmers markets that take SNAP
- Encourage the use of co-ops and community gardens
- Increase collaborations between Georgia government, nonprofit, and private entities
Unfortunately – SB 537 was not passed by the Georgia General Assembly in 2022.