Des Moines officials will form a food security task force in hopes of bolstering resources for residents with limited access to healthy diets.
The seven-member group will work on a volunteer basis with city officials to promote urban agriculture, research and recommend potential policies and create an online resource guide about where to find tools, compost, seeds, laying hens, honey bees and other supplies.
Council members unanimously approved the task force on Monday after Councilman Carl Voss and Councilwoman Connie Boesen spoke in support of the effort to ensure food security, a term that refers to peoples’ financial access to nutrition. The issue is compounded by the coronavirus pandemic and climate change, the resolution states.
The idea came from Ed Fallon, a climate activist and former Democratic state legislator, and Kathy Byrnes who founded the nonprofit Birds & Bees Urban Farm, Voss said.
“They planted the seed, so to speak, for this task force,” and have hosted several council members at their Sherman Hill garden in recent months, Voss said.
Fallon and Byrnes said the timing to form the task force is ideal, as farmers and gardeners will have more free time to organize over the winter.
“It occurred to us that there’s a lot of work to be done in a lot places around the city to help people to learn to not just to grow food, but how to source it locally and even forage for it where it’s available,” Byrnes said. “The city can be a leader in helping establish some systems that ease that process for people and just make it more possible for all of us to eat better.”
Council members will each appoint somebody to the task force, the resolution says, including: three people with urban farming experience in Des Moines, one restaurant or business owner who sources local foods, one person with experience caring for fruit and nut trees, one person who has raised poultry or livestock inside city limits and someone with professional experience in “farm-to-market” production.
Voss said those interested serving on the task force should contact the City Clerk.
Shelby Fleig covers Des Moines city government for the Register. Reach her at [email protected] or 515-214-8933.