Residents have said that they have a strong interest in building a robust local food system in Wichita and Sedgwick County, but the community needs a roadmap to guide the process. The community needs to know where and how to invest time, resources, and partnerships to best support a vibrant local food economy.
Also, past studies conducted by K-State Research and Extension (PDF) and the Health and Wellness Coalition of Wichita (PDF) point to some exciting opportunities if we get this right. A Wichita-Sedgwick Food System Master Plan can help:
- Build a strong local economy: Sedgwick County residents spent just over $1.6 billion on food in 2018. If just 5% of those were purchases of locally-grown food, an estimated $80 million would circulate through the county each year, supporting many other local businesses - from farm implement dealers to restaurants.
- Support entrepreneurs in food and agriculture businesses to grow and prepare more food closer to home. Sedgwick County farmers produce more grains and beef than we consume locally, and they are important agricultural exports for the region. Many of the other foods we eat though, are produced locally in very small quantities. For example, we produce only 0.0008% of the chicken we consume and 0.4% of the eggs. We produce only about 0.7% of the vegetables we consume and 0.2% of the fruit. Growing more of the food we consume here can support farmers wanting to diversify their operations, and entrepreneurs who want to start businesses to meet the growing demand for local food.
- Build a healthier community where all residents have access to nutritious, fresh food: Approximately 25% of Wichitans do not have access to healthy food. In fact, 44 square miles of the city is considered a food desert, an area in which residents don't have the financial or transportation resources to get to supermarkets or grocery stores. Access to healthy food is a key ingredient to building a healthy community.