Food Systems

The quest for food security can be the common thread that links the different challenges we face and helps build a sustainable future.

José Graziano da Silva United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General

Food is the great connector. Through food we connect to soil, rain, sunlight, farmers, animals, ranchers, and truckers. Through our food we are in relationship with immigrant farmworkers, family and faith traditions, grocery store clerks, fossil fuels, agricultural policy, and the list goes on.  

Consider the following: it takes 6.7 pounds of grains and forage and 52.8 gallons of water to produce a single quarter pound hamburger (*). Nearly 15%  of U.S. households struggle to put enough food on the table (**). About half of all American children will receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits at some point before age 20. Among African-American children, 90 percent will enroll in SNAP before age 20 (+).

Clearly, how we grow and transport our food and who has access to healthy food have a great deal to do with sustainability and environmental justice.

Research We Support: 

Local Organizations:

  • Food Lifeline is a nonprofit that recovers leftover and excess food from restaurants and business and distributes them to the community to provide nutritious food to hungry, low-income people. See how Seattle U is involved here.
  • Seattle Tilth teaches adults and kids how to grow food, compost, garden organically, raise urban livestock, and conserve natural resources.
  • Green Plate Special engages ethnically diverse, middle-school youth through hands-on learning in growing, cooking, and eating healthy, tasty food. See the video here!  
  • Washington Sustainable Food and Farming Network uses education, organizing, and advocacy to advance sustainable food and farming programs and policies in Washington State.
  • FareStart is a culinary job training and placement program for homeless and disadvantaged individuals.
  • Seattle U Urban Farm is a collaborative effort between the King County Wastewater Treatment Division and the Environmental Studies program and all produce made is distributed to local food banks.
  • Urban Food Link works with communities to create a fair, vibrant regional food system that connects people to healthy food.
  • Beacon Hill Food Forest is an edible urban forest garden that inspires the Beacon Hill community to gather together, grow their own food, and rehabilitate the local ecosystem.
  • Solid Ground 
    • Nate Moxley discusses food justice and the importance of educating youth about healthy eating. Solid Ground is a multi-service agency committed to eliminating poverty through housing, transportation, advocacy and food programs

 *JL Capper, Journal of Animal Science, December, 2011.

** "Household Food Security in United States, 2010." US Department Of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, September 2011.

+ "Estimating the Risk of Food Stamp Use and Impoverishment during Childhood," Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, Volume 163 (Number 11). November 2009.

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