Promoting Food Security in Southeast Alaska

erin-laughlinBY ERIN LAUGHLIN
Staff Writer, UAS Whalesong

Walking through a grocery store’s produce section and finding it empty because the barge is late is a social norm those in the lower 48 do not experience, and a glaring depiction of the last frontier’s food insecurity.

The UAS Masters of Public Administration Program (MPA) and Sustainability Club will be hosting “Future Juneau,” a two-night event discussing food security and sustainable urban development Apr. 26 and 27.

UAS MPA Lead Faculty and Assistant Professor of Public Administration Dr. Jim Powell organized the event to highlight what Southeast Alaska is currently doing to fight food insecurity and start a discussion on improving sustainability.

Powell said, “Food security is a sustainability issue because it crosses all the different issues: health, transportation, economics . . . everyone eats.”

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reports that 95 percent of food Alaskans purchase annually is imported, which inspired the topics of discussion.

The first discussion, “Food Security and Juneau,” will be held on Apr. 26 in the Glacier View Room at 7 PM. The second, “The City We Need; The City We Want,” will be held Apr. 27 in the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly Chambers at 5:30 p.m.

International Expert on City Innovations and Sustainability and Dean Emeritus of the University of Nebraska Cecil Steward along with Professor of Architecture at the University of Nebraska Dr. Sharon Kuska will lead both discussions.

In his book “Sustainometrics: Measuring Sustainability,” Stewart wrote about five domains of human activity, “environmental, socio-cultural, technological, economics, and public policy — and their interplay with regard to achieving the goals of sustainability. Taken together, the five domains of sustainometrics can guide holistic solutions balancing human needs with the depletion of natural resources.”

In response, UAS students on campus are making an effort to be sustainable with a community garden organized by the UAS Sustainability Club.

Co-chair of the UAS Sustainability Club Gretchyn O’Donnell said “In the future we’d like to collect food waste from the cafeteria for composting to reduce the amount of food that gets thrown away.”

“With the campus garden, we want to provide food to the cafeteria or to students directly that we grow,” O’Donnell said.

The UAS community garden is an example of sustainable development, which “The City We Need; The City We Want” discussion will focus on.

The title of the discussion comes from the United Nation effort titled “The City We Need” under the World Urban Campaign (WUC).

WUC’s website outlines, “well-planned cities afford all residents the opportunity to lead safe, healthy, and productive lives. Well-designed cities present nations with major opportunities to promote social inclusion, resilience, and prosperity with a collective contribution of committed partners united by shared goals.”

While Alaska is limited by its isolation, there is still the possibility of innovation and sustainability, explained Dr. Powell.

“Isolation is the big reason for sustainability issues, but not the excuse.”

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