Food and Health in Spokane County: A Closer Look

Food and Health in Spokane County: A Closer Look

Jun 01, 2011

Join Us for a Lively Discussion on Food and Health in Spokane County, June 7

SPOKANE, Wash. – June 1, 2011 – On Tuesday, June 7, 2011, Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD), The Whole Plate, Community Building Foundation and Spokane Food Access Coalition (FAC), invite community members to learn about and discuss our local food system and its impacts on health and the economy.  

The presentations and discussions are a free event open to the entire public andwill take place at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 4340 W. Fort Wright Dr., Spokane, June 7, 2011, from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Attendees can come as early as 4:30 p.m. to enjoy one of local chef David Blaine’s (Latah Bistro) famous PopUp Restaurant meals*. Pre-purchased meal tickets are required and are available for $6 by clicking here.

“Everyone’s voice matters in this discussion,” said Dr. Joel McCullough, SRHD health officer. “Creating a food system that meets the community’s needs requires communication with consumers, growers and distributors.”
Visiting author Jeremy Smith (Growing a Garden City) opens the conversation with his observations on how a diverse local food community thrives, with examples from his community of Missoula, Mont., and examples from Spokane. His surprising, inspiring true stories of personal and civic transformation through local food, farms and gardens are not to be missed, as well as the opportunity to find parallels within our own community.
Over the next 90 minutes, a panel of experts will present on food access and its impact on health and the economy locally. Dr. Dave Johnson, founder and president of Vivacity, will focus on the connection between food and optimal health. Johnson’s company recently completed a large employer study that shows that health care costs are strongly correlated to body mass index (BMI - a measure of obesity). “Of all the health measurements, an increasingly high BMI is the strongest predictor of increasing health costs,” said Johnson.
Also presenting, Dr. Viki Sonntag, a practitioner, activist and researcher in sustainable economies, who will present her research on how local linkages are foundational to a healthy food economy.
And Natalie Tauzin, RD, MPH, and nutrition specialist with SRHD, will present the current status of healthy food accessibility in Spokane, as well as the nature of food insecurity and its impact on residents' health, especially obesity and diabetes. For instance, research shows that the presence of supermarkets and grocery stores selling fresh fruits and vegetables in a community helps people maintain a healthy weight1. Convenience stores are not known for an abundant offering of these fresh foods, yet the City of Spokane has double the number of convenience stores as grocery or supermarkets.
In contrast, Spokane County also has at least 26 community gardens—17 of which are in the City of Spokane. Many of these are located in neighborhoods where the population is the densest and poverty levels are highest. Community members will be asked to identify food barriers and assets like these based on their personal experience and knowledge. This will be critical for identifying priorities for how to improve Spokane’s food system.
Additionally, various local food groups will have information tables to show the diversity of food activities already present in our community. This is an additional opportunity for the audience to explore next steps in staying engaged in the sustainable food and health conversation in town.

To register for the event, email Nancy Hawley.

More information
About Spokane Food Access Coalition
A healthy food system is an essential component of creating a strong, economically stable county. Spokane Food Access Coalition (FAC) is committed to creating an equitable, healthy and sustainable food system in Spokane County. The FAC seeks to empower residents of Spokane County to plan and sustain a healthy food system by facilitating collaboration with business, institutional, agriculture, legislative, education, health and environmental partners. Learn more about the Food Access Coalition.

About Spokane Regional Health District
Spokane Regional Health District is one of 34 local public health agencies serving Washington state's 39 counties. We have approximately 250 employees and serve a population of more than 465,000 in Spokane County. More information is available at SRHD’s website offers comprehensive, updated information about Spokane Regional Health District and its triumphs in making Spokane a safer and healthier community.

*vegetarian and meat options available

1The Food Trust. The Grocery Gap: Who has Access to Healthy Food and Why it Matters