WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Wichita City Council voted on Tuesday in favor of a food master plan to address the nearly 100,000 Wichitans that live in a food desert. A food desert is an urban area in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food.
“I am going to enthusiastically make a motion that the city council adopts the City of Wichita Sedgwick County Food System Master Plan,” said city council member Becky Tuttle.
“We have received seven votes, that motion does pass,” said Mayor Brandon Whipple.
The unanimous vote brings the city one step closer to solving the 44 square miles of food deserts in Wichita.
“In 2013, it became apparent that this was an issue that needed to be addressed,” said Shelley Rich, with the Health and Wellness Coalition of Wichita.
The plan to address several issues regarding the problem has been in the works for years. The first step was creating a food and farm council.
“I think that we’re we are lacking clear ordinances and what can and can’t be done under certain zoning restrictions and if there is just a concentrated place where all these questions can be answered so that anybody who wants to grow food whether in like a gardening, fashion or farming fashion are able to,” said Megan Greenway, the co-owner of Orie’s Farm Fresh.
The main goals of the Master Food Plan are to improve access to healthy food for everyone and increase local food production. Within 10 years, the hope is Wichita will be a healthier place to live.
“We’ve got great community partners doing work in their respective subject matter experts. And so I think just bringing everybody together to work on this on the issues at hand will be very helpful,” said Rich.
If Sedgwick County commissioners pass the plan, the food and farm council will be formed by representatives like producers, grocers, farmers market representatives, nutrition, and more. Small changes could be seen within the coming months.