This month the Planting Seeds blog is featuring stories on food security and nutrition. CDFA’s Office of Farm to Fork is committed to helping all Californians access healthy and nutritious California-grown food by connecting consumers, school districts, and others directly with California’s farmers and ranchers.
UC Merced is relaunching its branch of the Blum Center for Developing Economies with a focus on food security, with a hope to make it a hub for food-security-related research and outreach.
Economics Professor Kurt Schnier, with the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts, and Karina Diaz Rios, a nutrition specialist in the UC Cooperative Extension, will lead the rejuvenated Blum Center, with administrative help from the Health Sciences Research Institute (HSRI).
“We want to create a community on campus to address issues of food security,” Schnier said. “We want to help engage students, faculty members and the community to have a direct effect on people’s lives.”
Merced County’s economy is largely based around agriculture, yet many people there do not have food security. The food insecurity rate in the area is 15.5 percent, according to the Merced County Food Bank, compared to a statewide average of 13.9 percent. Nearly 30 percent of those considered food insecure in Merced County are children. Food insecurity is defined as a lack of reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.
The Blum Center at UC Merced started in 2013 and is affiliated with the Blum Center at UC Berkeley, which was founded by a gift from investment banker and UC Regent Richard C. Blum. There are Blum Centers on several other UC campuses, including UCLA, UC Davis and UC Berkeley, the school from which Blum graduated. Each center has a slightly different focus, though all work toward the betterment of the global society.