The West Georgia Regional Food System Collaborative is working to develop new community gardens, to bring Cooking Matters classes to west Georgia, to increase nutrition education and bring healthier food options to local schools, to improve access to healthy food for all residents in west Georgia, to connect area farmers with restaurants and retail establishments, and to support various task force initiatives.
The Food System Collaborative was launched by west Georgia residents who are working to create a healthier food infrastructure in Carroll, Haralson and Heard counties. Members of the Regional Food System Collaborative meet quarterly at Tanner Medical Center/Carrollton and are organized by Get Healthy, Live Well, an initiative of Tanner Health System’s Community Benefit department.
More than 30 representatives from local organizations are participating in this effort. Area food growers and producers, students, social service workers, agricultural extension agents, university professors and interested consumers are sharing their perspectives and shaping key goals for the strategic plan.
In addition to Get Healthy, Live Well staff, the council members represent a wide variety of community groups, including the Georgia Food Policy Council, University of West Georgia students, faculty and staff, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, State of Georgia public health and Women, Infants and Children officials, Crager/Hager Farm, Cotton Mill Farmers Market, Sewell Mill Farmers Market, Tanner Health System’s Executive Council and Board of Directors, medical staff and registered dietitians, Keep Carroll Beautiful, the Carrollton Menu, area master gardeners, organic chefs and area businesses including Morgan Oil.
As the efforts of the Food System Collaborative have grown, the group has formed several task forces to address specific goals related to food issues in west Georgia, including:
- Supporting local farmers
- Increasing access to healthy foods in grocery and convenience stores
- Improving nutrition education and farm-to-school programs in area schools
- Supporting existing community gardens and creating new gardens
- Offering nutrition education and cooking classes for low-income families
- Working with local restaurants to increase healthy and locally sourced menu options
- Evaluating grant outcomes to assess their impact on public health in the tri-county area
The Regional Food System Collaborative is part of a larger effort to improve health and wellness for the 151,000 residents of Carroll, Haralson and Heard counties. Get Healthy, Live Well was funded by a $1.2 million Community Transformation Grant by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Get Healthy, Live Well is working to decrease the incidence of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease by addressing key risk factors such as obesity, tobacco use and hypertension.