Oroville – Butte County Board of Supervisors received a brief presentation about the county’s food situation, along with information about local agriculture and food insecurity.
Supervisor Debra Lucero invited Chico State professor Maria Giovanni, who is also a board member of the Butte County Local Food Network, to provide updates.
The network conducted a baseline food assessment that began in the summer of 2021 and was completed on February 22, 2022, with help from the North Valley Community Foundation and the But Strong Fund.
The analysis of the assessment during Giovanni’s presentation provided the following information:
- Roughly 98% of the food grown in Butte County is sent outside the region.
- Crop diversification within Butte County has been reduced to three primary crops.
- The number of farms in the county declined by 7% between 2012 and 2017.
- Primary challenges included drought, wildfires, regulations and keeping a strong customer base.
- There are not enough production facilities.
Giovanni also said that the average age of farmers is over 60.
Giovanni said, “As many of you know, this is a very physically demanding job, and therefore, we are like the rest of the country where the average age of our farmers is over 60. ” “And we’re not replacing those farmers, so that’s a big concern.”
Moving to food access, Giovanni said that 19% of families with children and 14% of all residents of Butte County face chronic food insecurity. Both are above the national average.
“We want to make sure we have food that everyone can appreciate and enjoy,” Giovanni said. “I’ve worked a lot with people in different housing situations, and it’s great to say there’s a box of food here, but if you don’t have a kitchen or stove to cook it, that’s a problem.”
According to the report, more than a quarter of Butte County is considered a food desert. A food desert was defined as an area where more than 33% of the population has little access to food.
The Butte County Board of Supervisors usually meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month at 9 a.m. in their chambers located at 25 County Center Drive, Suite 205 in Oroville. The meetings are free and open to the public.