The Case For Food: The Heartbeat of the Rural Alaskan Arctic Community
Monique Baskin, 2016 John A. Knauss Fellow
A non-traditional and inclusive, state level food (in)security policy strategy would make a difference in the lives of many rural Alaskans. This food (in)security policy strategy should include a vision that actively engages rural indigenous community participation with measurable targets/objectives; timeline; action plan that includes activities, outputs, and short to long-term outcomes; a budget and monitoring mechanisms that include indicators that show progress.
- 13% and 4% of Alaskan households experience low food security and very low food security respectively.
- The prevalence of food insecurity is highest in rural Alaska.
- About 81,000, Alaskans participate annually in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as Food Stamps).
- In Alaska, more than 73% of SNAP participants are families with children.
Food (in)security has progressed from a broad and global framework to a focus on local communities. In spite of local focus, food (in)security persists because traditional food (in)security definitions and local policy solutions do not take indigenous knowledge, expertise or the need to access resources into consideration to solve the problem.
- Compared to traditional components of food insecurity (availability, access, quality and utilization), Alaskan Inuit food insecurity components include: availability; Inuit culture; decision-making power and management; health and wellness; stability; and accessibility.
- USDA-FNSP programs are unsuccessful because more food pantries are located in urban rather than rural areas, where the need exists.
- In addition, food transportation to rural areas face enormous infrastructure and environmental constraints, significantly handicapping the program.
- Current decision making and resource management policies promote barriers to resource access.
The State Government should announce a rural food (in)security reduction policy strategy that begins with engaging Inuit Circumpolar Council, rural community leaders and state and local government with the expressed goal of setting up a task force that develops a strategy which includes measurable targets/objectives; timeline; action plan that includes activities, outputs, and short to long-term outcomes; a budget and monitoring and evaluation mechanisms that include indicators that show progress.
For further information, contact Monique Baskin at 301-427-2423 or firstname.lastname@example.org.