In creating an educational brochure, we provide individuals facing food insecurity with a user-friendly, transportable, and durable means of acquiring community resources to empower themselves and each other. Although our primary audience are people physically experiencing food insecurity, the brochure could be administered to community organizations, concerned family/friends, nonprofits, and small businesses in order to educate the general public.
After meeting with numerous Tallahassee stakeholders and creating an open dialogue with those facing food insecurity in the community, the Human Practices team came together to formulate an educational component to our project. The Human Practices team noticed a few recurring themes and overarching accessibility issues that individuals in our community face when attempting to alleviate personal food insecurity. In creating an educational component, the HP team wanted to acknowledge the intersectionality between food insecurity, homelessness, and lack of medical resources and education. By understanding the interconnectedness of these issues, we can better meet the needs of an evolving Tallahassee population and increase equity for struggling communities.
Creating the Literature
Our project mission has been to utilize synthetic biology & other methods to address problems that embody the different factors of food insecurity. So aside from educating larger stakeholders on synthetic biology as something that can be institutionally introduced into supply chains, we also sought to create literature based on food insecurity and utilize community members to create a high volume of impact rather than speaking to individuals ourselves.
We felt supplying educational resources to community leaders in food insecurity would address the lack of awareness when it comes to food insecurity resources such as rehabilitation centers, EBT, and food banks. After conversations with different organizations, we created an outline of what the pamphlet should cover and garnered approval from community leaders.
We first determined the type of material produced by speaking to local stakeholders at Farmer’s markets to identify the needs of the community. After speaking to farmers, churches, and food banks we realized there is a general lack of resource education. When learning this we brainstormed different methods of communicating with our audience but settled on the idea of a printable open-source pdf that can be shared with a variety of stakeholders for their constituents.
Accessibility was one of our primary concerns when creating the “Food Insecurity Resources” brochure. Although many individuals who face food insecurity own “smart” phones and similar technology, we wanted to be inclusive of all communities; including those who may not have stable internet connections or whose technology is not consistently reliable. That’s why, along with a Linktree QR code which includes a plethora of helpful resources, we included a Tallahassee map on the front page of our brochure that highlights the largest/most established homeless shelters and food banks in the Tallahassee area. For those that do have reliable QR friendly technology, the Linktree provided includes a more extensive map, links to food assistance program offices in Florida, affordable healthy food options, and a guide to Tallahassee stores that accept EBT cards.
Our target audience is food insecure community members of Tallahassee ranging from multiple Census Tracts & socio-economic classes. Members range from those in-between homes to mothers of four. Our plan to have the pamphlet freely printable allows for our target audience to distribute without cost. Our target audience is usually mobile or working to maintain bills without time to research resources. Educating food insecure citizens is crucial in the fight against food insecurity as there are many resources available for the issue. There are a plethora of organizations and community leaders dedicated to feeding their neighbors and are happy to spread food out. Some programs may be abandoned or defunded if not utilized at a high volume so educating consumers benefit organizations which in turn benefit users.
After investigating the eco-system of organizations surrounding the fight against food insecurity we wanted to utilize local resources to provide accessibility to a wider audience than citizens we could reach ourselves. We intentionally spoke to stakeholders in the community as we developed the informational pamphlet such as Grace Mission Church & Good News Outreach to confirm our educational literature was worth sharing.
Access to resources is one of the most important principles we wish to abide by within our infographic pamphlet. By sharing it with community leaders in multiple areas of the city with different reaches, the word is spread to those the stakeholders serve. While creating the material, stakeholders informed us they would be happy to share our resource as they felt it identified the needs in relation to problems the community faces.
To help with food insecurity through the lens of Houselessness, we spoke with City Walk, a rehabilitation center, to understand how they tackle food insecurity. Creating an educational resource that is easily transported & creates a high volume of impact on the user is essential to the mission of the pamphlet itself. Having a map allows for usage no matter where in the city one is located. Kearny Center, another local rehabilitation center, informed us they donate phones with service to houseless citizens so the QR code can be utilized to easily find resources whether it be a food pantry or an EBT accepting food store.
Working Class Families
Families in food deserts may lean on support systems to provide dinner for their families every night. Being tight on money, overworked, and stressed creates a situation where parents may not have time to research different resources and may simply stretch what they have in the name of bootstrapping so providing resources at places they already frequently visit is important. Areas such as Schools, community centers, and libraries are hubs of traffic that families use. Educating families of resources and different food banks can relieve stress from the family which can translate to higher performance in school from children and a decrease in mental health prevalence. The stress of not being able to feed one's family may also drive marriages and worklife to fall apart as caretaking is something that matters to all people.
One of the most helpful resources for individuals facing food insecurity nationwide are EBT cards and Fresh Access Bucks (FAB). We would be amiss to not include thorough step-by-step instructions on how the two resources intertwine, and why someone facing food insecurity can benefit from using them. Therefore, on the back of our brochure, we have included concise definitions of EBT and SNAP, the address to our local SNAP office, and a “How To Register” panel that explains how funds will be administered and a few locations where cards can be used in Tallahassee. Our hope is that individuals will utilize FAB to make healthy choices with their spending habits. Our nutrition panel outlines some helpful products that are low-cost and easy to consume as well as daily nutrition recommendations from reliable sources.
Our brochure will be administered to local stakeholders and food banks in the hopes that more of our Tallahassee community will be empowered by local resources. We also have plans to administer these brochures to Tallahassee bus stops where more individuals facing food insecurity will be able to reach them. By educating the public, we are investing in the future of our community and bringing the vital resources and connections directly to them.
Stakeholders speaking about resources available in the community. For example, a pastor can use our educational material to spread awareness about available resources for those who truly need them most. Utilizing the pamphlet as a source for conversation allows for families and friends to educate others on how to sign up for programs or the available resources as awareness of resources is extremely important to fighting food insecurity. At the individual level, citizens can learn about nutrition & government help which is not taught and has to be looked into which most people aren’t going to no matter the circumstances.
Educating StakeholdersIn-Person Meeting
On September 27th, we spoke with Second Harvest management to educate them on our iGEM project. We spoke about advancements in synthetic biology, market research for our entrepreneurship, and education. Throughout the meeting, we bounced around ideas of implementation and how synthetic biology can work in the future of food insecurity as the scaling of bio-plastics develop. Overall we received feedback for our project that largely impacted entrepreneurship and education, but informing Second Harvest of synthetic biology solutions to different problems within food insecurity supply chains.
Second Harvest was very interested in the Preservative process as they are not allowed close packaging but can re-package loosely. Throughout the meeting, they were very interested in the entrepreneurship portion. Understanding and logistically sorting out the details of the previous entrepreneurship project caused a large pivot for that portion. Second Harvest expressed interest once FDA approval happens throughout the proposed implementation process as they educated us on their nationwide meetings where they discuss macrolevel advancements in the Food insecurity industry.