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Utah Food Security Council based at USU

Young adults packaging food for storage
USU Extension
USU Extension
Young adults packaging food for storage

Sariah Israelsen: This is Utah Public Radio. I'm Sariah Israelsen. Thanks for joining us for USU extension educational highlight.

Heidi LeBlanc, extension Home and Community Director and hunger solution institute director joins us this week to talk about the new Utah Food Security Council base at USU. Welcome!

Heidi LeBlanc: Thank you!

Sariah Israelsen: So, USU extension has partnered with the Utah Farm Bureau, the UDAF, the Utah Department of Health, Utahns Against Hunger and other agencies working on food security efforts. What do you hope comes out of the collaboration with all these departments?

Heidi LeBlanc: We're hoping to come together as a unified team, representing agencies that are also on the list, but to work on addressing hunger solutions through various ways, whether we're doing grant funding, or we're asking for more legislative funding to fund different projects and opportunities that could help us solve some of the hunger that happens in Utah.

Sariah Israelsen: What are some of those projects, or some of those plans that the council is planning to distribute this food?

Heidi LeBlanc: Yeah, we actually haven't had our first meeting yet, so it's kind of up in the air, but we're looking at things like, 'what is going on out there in the state of Utah?' 'Who's working on what?' so we can put together a clearinghouse of the resources there.

And then other things are to really dive into what are the reasons for hunger, and 'how can we help people get healthy food?' I think would be a great aim for us as well.

Sariah Israelsen: So, one of the goals of the council was to build public awareness around the issue, how are they planning on doing that?

Heidi LeBlanc: We have a website that we are sharing resources out, we're also going to be sharing through our social media. Right now we're sharing it through our 'Hunger Solutions Institute' and 'Utah SNAP-Ed Works' social media pages. And then the website will continue to just highlight what's happening.

We'll be writing articles and hopefully doing more press releases to talk about the steady state of hunger in Utah as it hopefully decreases, but it seems to be ramping up at this time.

Sariah Israelsen: What is the name of that website, for those that want to go look at it?

Heidi LeBlanc: The website is Utah Food Security Council | USU

Sariah Israelsen: How is the council planning to increase access to healthy and affordable food within communities?

Heidi LeBlanc: Like you mentioned before, the number one thing we're going to do, probably upfront, is to bring awareness to the need. And then from there, we are going to work with agencies that have food.

The Utah Food Bank is a great agency and all the food pantries throughout Utah also are striving to have food there. And so just bringing the right people to the table, anyone that's interested in helping us and has access to food or has access to, you know, funding, also hoping to create some policies to help make sure that we're helping families in need.

Sariah Israelsen: Heidi, is there anything about the Utah Food Security Council that you want to touch on that we haven't?

Heidi LeBlanc: Yeah, we just really want to have people involved that want to work on solving hunger. So it's the public council, those that are on the council are the voting members, but we want the public to be involved, to have discussions and to be able to talk about ways that they can see to solve hunger. I think that, you know, being able to do it, we need a team of people and we're happy to have anyone involved.

Sariah Israelsen: Heidi, you thank you so much for being here. Thank you. And thanks for joining us for USU extension educational highlight. Stay tuned for more next week.