WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – On Tuesday, the Wichita City Council voted to approve the Farm and Food Council created out of the Sedgwick County and City of Wichita Food System Master Plan.
Those who worked on the master plan said this council will help put all the pieces together to address the food needs in Wichita, but some residents want action to be taken sooner.
“If you want food, you gotta go three miles or more,” said Wichita resident Donald Calhoun.
Calhoun has lived near 13th and Grove for seven years. He is visually impaired, making it difficult for him to travel to get food. He is also a part of the 25% of Wichitans who live in a food desert.
Forty-four square miles of the city are considered a food desert meaning residents either do not have transportation or the finances to get fresh food close by.
“A convenience store is way different than going in there and getting your eggs, your produce, your meats,” said Calhoun.
The Farm and Food Council was created to address food needs and develop a food economy in Wichita.
“We can be growing it locally. We can employ people to grow food, harvest food, deliver food,” said Jesse Marks, owner of Nudge Compost.
That includes incentivizing grocery stores to open in the areas needing fresh food.
“It is going to help people who are truly struggling to access healthy food and ideally will be local,” said Marks.
The council will consider changing zoning rules.
“Make it so that urban farms fit into our zoning rules so that more food can be grown in the city,” said Leah Dannar-Garcia, the owner and operator of RISE Farms and Firefly Farm.
But for residents like Calhoun, he hopes this action happens sooner rather than later.
“I’m still hungry. I still gotta eat,” said Calhoun.
The county and the city will now work to appoint people to the Farm and Food Council. It could start meeting in December or early 2023.