Food Security Task Force Releases Findings, Recommendations, and FEED DSM Initiative
DES MOINES, IOWA – Monday, November 1, 2021 – The Des Moines Food Security Task Force established by the City Council has issued a final report, key recommendations, and resources for the community following an initial eight-month effort to address food insecurity through urban farming and promotion of local food production.
The Task Force’s work has culminated in several recommendations to enhance or improve City policies and regulations related to food security and food access. Key recommendations include, but are not limited to:
- Expanding definitions for urban agricultural practices to reflect the diversity of approaches to urban growing and raising food locally
- Removing fencing and other ancillary structure requirements for gardens that can prevent people from growing their own food
- Allowing the sale of produce and products onsite for urban farms and community gardens, and
- Simplifying the use of structures that can expand the length of the growing season, like hoop and greenhouses.
The Task Force has also recommended consideration and adoption of two resolutions. One resolution would address food security, by setting aggressive, but achievable goals to produce food locally, and another that would protect the right of the public to forage for food on public lands throughout Des Moines. City Council will now work with the City staff to determine the feasibility of these recommendations and how to best implement them. Changes to municipal code will be voted on in a future City Council meeting.
The Task Force’s work also included the creation of an initiative called Food Equity and Education for Des Moines – or FEED DSM, an ever-evolving web-based platform to connect people with the knowledge, resources, and relevant regulations to help them successfully grow food, raise animals, and forage throughout the city.
FEED DSM’s initial focus is on five key areas:
- Structures, Tools, and Resources – how to find tools, supplies water, and other resources
- Land Access & Soil Quality – where to grow, where to find soil and amendments, and how to avoid soil contamination
- Raising & Processing Animals – how to raise animals and insects you for food or production
- Growing & Processing Fruits and Vegetables – how to care for your crops, grow and preserve food
- Foraging, Fishing & Hunting – How to find wild food in an urban environment
FEED DSM will expand as the City continues to address other critical aspects of food security, including identification of land to support and expand urban agriculture, promotion of organizations and events that can connect people with food resources, or information on how to find food during a disaster or significant prolonged event, like the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m very pleased with the progress the Food Security Task Force made in the past eight months by establishing the FEED DSM initiative and making practical recommendations to simplify and increase urban farming,” said Councilman Carl Voss. “The goal of the Task Force is to strengthen our community by providing residents with resources to grow food for themselves – and they’re doing just that.”
In developing the FEED DSM initiative, the Food Security Task Force is leveraging local expertise and learning from urban agriculture research by local, regional, and national organizations. The group will continue to develop resource guides, provide recommendations, and promote best practices. Now that the initial urban agriculture focus is complete, the Task Force’s charge will likely expand to address broader challenges to food systems, security and access across the City of Des Moines.
To address the pressing issue of food insecurity and climate change, the City Council last December unanimously approved the formation of the Food Security Task Force. The group, formed in February to serve a six-month term, is comprised of seven members with experience in urban farming, farm-to-market production, local food sourcing poultry/livestock production and care for fruit and nut trees.
Additional information about FEED DSM and the work of the Des Moines Food Security Task Force may be found at DSM.city/feeddsm.
Chief Communications Officer, City Manager’s Office
About the City of Des Moines
The City of Des Moines: Iowa’s capital city and local government servicing more than 214,000 residents, 52 neighborhoods, over 4,000 acres of parkland and 81 miles of trails. The City of Des Moines stands to be a financially strong city with exceptional city services, fostering an involved community in a customer friendly atmosphere. Visit DSM.city, Facebook and Twitter for more information.