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Local Organizations Partnering to Develop Healthy, Balanced Food System | WDIY Local News

Priscilla Du Preez

A group of local organizations is coming together to develop a new system to provide the Lehigh Valley with healthy food.

According to a release, seven organizations are working together to build locally-grown food production and establish local food infrastructure.

The seven partners are the Kellyn Foundation, Bethlehem Area School District, Lehigh Valley Health Network, Penn State Extension, Rodale Institute, Bethlehem Food Co-Op, and Second Harvest Food Bank.

The seven organizations partnering to develop a new, local food system in the Lehigh Valley.
Contributed photo
Eric J. Ruth
The seven organizations partnering to develop a new, local food system in the Lehigh Valley.

According to Eric Ruth, Co-Founder and CEO of the Kellyn Foundation, the system would include a variety of entities including farmers, manufacturers, processors, distributors, institutional buyers, neighborhoods, and individual consumers.

It will also involve the support of governmental, non-profit and for-profit entities.

“Having a strong local food system means greater food security for everyone living in our region. We can’t do that without deep commitment from all sectors to build the infrastructure and capacity to take our local food system to the next level,” said Allison Czapp, Associate Executive Director of Second Harvest Food Bank.

The release said the partners in the initiative would pledge to five key points:

  • Transform from a current focus on hunger to a broader focus on individual health for all.
  • Develop a fair and equitable process with local farmers to expand their wholesale production, matching supply and demand.
  • Identify and share entrepreneurial opportunities needed to build the local system.
  • Include and embrace additional partners.
  • Maintain a transparent and open strategy throughout the process.

Kathy Reznik, LVHN’s Administrator of Food and Nutrition Services, said the health network has said that the community’s overall health, “is only as good as the least healthy segment of our community.”
“Ensuring everyone has access to nutritious, fresh, healthy food every day is one of those core necessities that can make a difference in the global health of an entire community,” she said.

Ruth said a food system supports entrepreneurial growth, creates jobs, champions overall health, supports the environment, reduces food insecurity, and demands equity.

“It will take many partners and many years to accomplish this goal, but we are determined to start the journey today,” he said. “Nothing will grow until a seed is planted.”

(Original air-date: 8/22/23)

Sarit "Siri" Laschinsky was WDIY's News and Public Affairs Director until 2023.
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