Strengthening Missouri’s local food systems

A new partnership between the University of Missouri Interdisciplinary Center for Food Security and MU Extension will make it easier to access information about local and regional food systems and food security.

“The goal of the partnership, currently called the Community Food Network, is to bring together ICFS and extension expertise to coordinate and respond to questions,” said Bill McKelvey, senior project coordinator.

Questions related to food systems and food security don’t always align with existing program areas at the university, McKelvey said. Questions often come from initiatives such as farmers markets or local food coalitions. Others may deal with local food regulations or healthy food access. ICFS and MU Extension want to fill this gap by organizing experts to provide resources, answer questions and support local stakeholders working in these areas.

The best way to use existing expertise, said McKelvey, is to mobilize the experts regardless of their discipline or location. Ultimately, McKelvey and a team of extension specialists would like to involve experts on other UM System campuses, at Lincoln University and others in government, industry and the nonprofit sector.

Building on the current work of the MU Extension Food Systems team, the network will also conduct trainings and develop educational materials on high-priority topics, said McKelvey.

Enhancing relationships between the network and Missouri communities is a key feature of this work, said McKelvey. Strong partnerships can lead to applied research projects and collaboration on grant opportunities.

“We want our stakeholders to be more informed, better connected and ready to take action as a result of this work,” said McKelvey. “We want to ensure that our food system is more resilient and that there is a greater economic impact and more economic opportunities for producers and others who are working in this area.”

Learn more about the Community Food Network at