WICHITA, Kan. – The Kansas Health Foundation is awarding $750,000 to KC Healthy Kids to help establish local, regional and state food policy councils to further improve access and consumption of healthy food and beverages across the state. KC Healthy Kids will assume responsibility for the Kansas Alliance for Wellness (KAW), which is focused on providing food policy training and technical assistance to local communities.
Food policy councils (FPCs) bring together stakeholders from diverse food-related sectors to examine how the food system is operating and provide local policymakers with recommendations for improvement. FPCs address food issues by engaging the five sectors of the food system (production, consumption, processing, distribution and waste recycling) and other stakeholders for coordinated action.
From January 2020 through December 2022, KC Healthy Kids will enhance the work of KAW and existing FPCs (listed below), while also helping to develop new councils across Kansas. Its work will include providing food policy technical assistance and training, assessing the status and effectiveness of the councils and implementing communications strategies.
“By strengthening and expanding efforts at the local level, we can improve food systems in Kansas and push for policy change to increase access to healthy foods,” said Reggie Robinson, KHF president and CEO. “Engaging local stakeholders is critical to the success of this initiative.”
Several health indicators drive these efforts. Approximately 1 in 8 Kansans struggle with hunger, as do 1 in 5 Kansas children, according to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap 2019. Kansas has the 12th highest adult obesity rate in the nation at 34.4 percent, according to the State of Childhood Obesity report. And, the 2017-2018 National Survey of Children’s Health indicates nearly 29 percent of Kansas youth age 10 to 17 are overweight or obese.
KAW and the team at KC Healthy Kids will work with partner councils to develop local and statewide policy solutions that increase access to healthy and affordable food – including advocating to reduce or eliminate the Kansas sales tax on groceries. In addition, they will support councils in addressing policies which KAW partners identify as priorities, such as promoting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)/Women Infants and Children (WIC) acceptance and Double Up Food Bucks usage at participating farmers markets and food service providers.
Between 2013 and late 2019, KHF contributed more than $850,000 to establish publicly appointed FPCs, perform food system assessments and create the Kansas Alliance for Wellness to strengthen the network of FPCs.
During that timeframe, the number of councils grew from 1 to 17, covering 36 counties:
An additional nine emerging food councils (in Anderson, Atchison, Barton, Finney, Ford, Gray, Pottawatomie, Sedgwick and Shawnee) are currently in various stages of development.
Through the grant, KHF will also provide $75,000 to Larissa Calancie, professor at Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy – who has extensive experience working with FPCs – to evaluate KHF’s investment in FPCs and to assess each council’s organizational capacity and impact in communities.
The Kansas Health Foundation is based in Wichita, but statewide in its focus. With a mission to improve the health of all Kansans, KHF envisions a culture in which every Kansan can make healthy choices where they live, work and play. To achieve this, KHF focuses its work in four impact areas: access to affordable health care, healthy behaviors, civic and community engagement and educational attainment. During its history, KHF has provided more than $500 million in grants to Kansas communities and organizations, and looks forward to working toward its mission and vision for many years to come.
Every month, our electronic newsletter, Health Happenings, features a story about a focus area, grant, partnership or program involving the Foundation.