April 25, 2011 — How much access do needy Charlottesville residents have to fresh, healthy food? Why is this important? How is access to healthy food reflected in the community's health and physical infrastructure, its food safety net, and food production? What are some of the strengths, challenges and opportunities for improvement? What assets, strengths, gaps and opportunities can help communities advance their local food system?
University of Virginia planning students have been exploring these questions for Charlottesville and Southwest Virginia and will present their findings and community-based recommendations on May 4, from 4:30 to 6:15 p.m., at the Charlottesville Community Design Center, 100 Fifth Street N.E., near the Ntelos Wireless Pavilion on the Downtown Mall. The Charlottesville research teams will present starting at 4:30 p.m. At 5:30 p.m., the Southwest Virginia teams will present their preliminary assessment of that region's food system.
Light refreshments will be offered. Discussion will follow each presentation.
The students researched food issues as part of "Food Systems Planning," a course offered by the School of Architecture's Department of Urban and Environmental Planning. This is the sixth annual presentation of the class's research results and conclusions surrounding food and community. The course is taught by Tanya Denckla Cobb, associate director of U.Va.'s Institute for Environmental Negotiation, and includes both graduate and undergraduate students.
Working in teams, students in Charlottesville undertook semester-long projects to assess food-access issues and identify challenges for food production, food assistance programs and health indicators. In Southwest Virginia, student teams undertook a preliminary broad assessment of the region's food system, identifying challenges and opportunities in food production, distribution and market development.
After completing preliminary research, students met with community members in each locality to discuss their findings and elicit community ideas for their food system priorities.
Students consulted a variety of different community organizations in their work, and look forward to sharing their work as a way to foster community feedback and discussion.
The Charlottesville Community Design Center is accessible by public transportation and parking is available at the downtown parking garage on Market Street.