Future visions of food security

food security

Briar Schoon and Kathleen Talbot, master’s students in the School of Sustainability (SOS) and Sustainability Connect project coordinators, conducted thesis research focusing on youth perspectives of food security in the Canyon Corridor neighborhood in West Phoenix.

Schoon and Talbot organized these workshops with the support of Rehoboth Community Development Corporation (RCDC), St. Luke’s Health Initiatives, and SOS faculty members from their theses committees.

Sixteen teenagers participated in three Saturday workshops during Fall 2011 to explore food security and its significance in Canyon Corridor. These workshops captured what community youth see as the problems and positive assets of the food environment in Canyon Corridor, what they see as the ideal future for their food system, and how their visions can be adapted to the Canyon Corridor context. The workshops included a number of interactive activities to capture youth perspectives including conceptual mapping, discussions, sketch mapping, photovoice, visioning exercises, writing narratives, and performing a strategy assessment.

The workshops resulted in a neighborhood-specific assessment of food security that provided a snapshot of people’s lived experiences as well as insight into the perspectives of an under-represented group of stakeholders. This assessment can help inform strategies that are relevant, effective, and promote community participation in addressing food issues. By focusing on youth, the project included the voices of our "future generation" and those arguably most affected by poor food environments. Schoon and Talbot hosted an open community forum for youth to share the results of the workshops. For this event, they prepared specific display materials, many of which are now displayed at the community center, and a final report for community members and partners. RCDC and its partners are incorporating the research results into a community action plan, and the report will be used as evidence and justification for future grant applications.

RCDC is interested in a longer-term relationship with SOS students and researchers and needs assistance designing and implementing food security interventions. Students interested in continuing this important research should contact Sustainability Connect.