Food Access

Food access starts with the simple notion that “we are what we eat,” and a recognition that availability of healthy, affordable, quality food the foundation for a community’s ability to be healthy.

This access to healthy food is determined by various factors that make up the community food system. These factors include the growing, harvesting, processing, packaging, transporting, selling, eating, recycling and composting of food products.

Ensuring that these food systems can produce good food depends on:1Johns Hopkins University’s Center for a Livable Future

  1. Advancing policy – developing and re-aligning “federal, state and local agriculture and food policies [to] protect the public’s health and the environment by supporting a healthy, equitable, and sustainable food system.”
  2. Cultivating food-aware communities – “developing relationships to improve food environments, increase access to healthy food, and inform food and nutrition policy.”
  3. Ensuring sustainability – directing resources and strategies toward long-term food security in the face of a convergence of issues that threaten the availability of healthy food.

Arizona and the Southwest region of the United States face distinctive agricultural and environmental challenges that directly impact the production of fresh food for the region. These challenges require innovative solutions.

What It Means

Many communities face unique barriers in accessing food options. Often times minority and low-income communities are disproportionately challenged by accessing healthy, affordable and quality food options.

Communities facing transportation inequities also tend to experience greater barriers to accessing healthy food. Transportation plays a major role in the movement and access of food. Sustainable solutions to food access acknowledge and address the transportation obstacles of the community.

Why It Matters

A resilient community is one that is able to recover from tragedy and adversity. Communities without food access are particularly susceptible to suffer when facing challenges with the environment and economy. Securing a strong food future allows communities to continue in the face of hardships.

Join Us

Live Well Arizona is a continually evolving website and will grow with your input. Help us identify, lift up, and celebrate efforts that help Arizonans be healthier and live well.

Submit Your Resources Here

National Resources: The Big Picture

Look here for statistics, analysis strategies, resources and best practices from across the country.

  • Feeding America – Working Together to End Hunger

  • Food Resource and Action Center (FRAC) – Federal Nutrition Programs

  • Food Tank

  • Healthy Food Access Portal – Policy Efforts & Impacts

  • Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future – Food System Sustainability

  • New Food Economy – Health

  • Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders

  • The Food Trust

  • The Reinvestment Fund – ReFresh

  • USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion

Arizona Resources: Local Spotlight

Looking to start, or engage in a conversation about Food Access and how you can contribute? Here are connectors, conveners, advocates and actors to bring to the table.

  • Arizona Association of Food Banks

  • Arizona Department of Agriculture

  • ASU School of Nutrition and Health Promotion

  • Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona

  • Local First Arizona

  • Maricopa County Food System Coalition

  • St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance

  • St. Vincent De Paul- Urban Farm

  • University of Arizona Cooperative Extension

  • Valley of the Sun United Way- End Hunger

  • Vitalyst Health Foundation

  • Your City and Municipal Government

  • Your County’s Department of Public Health



Connect with Food Access efforts-in-progress, and the partners who are helping to make them happen:

Policy & Systems Change

Beginning and Small Farms Program: A program that connects small and new farmers with the UofA and other resources to support and inform farming efforts.

Curbside and Worksite Composting: The City of Tempe and local start up Recycled City are each helping turn food waste back into food through their own composting efforts.

Food Coalitions: A group made up of a cross section of members committed to improving the food system and creating solutions to food issues. Some state examples include The Yavapai Food Council, The Pima County Food Alliance, The Ajo Regional Food Alliance, and Flagstaff Foodlink.

Food Hub Co-operatives: An organization that helps distribute and market locally produced foods in a way that supports small farmers and the local food system.

Maricopa County Food System Assessment: The Maricopa County Food System Coalition is conducting a system wide survey of Maricopa county and parts of Pinal county that will uncover the current landscape of food in the Valley. Contact the FACT Work Group here to learn more and get involved.

Increasing Food Access

Double Up Food Bucks: Double Up Food Bucks provides SNAP recipients with additional money to spend on locally grown fruits and veggies when they use their EBT cards at participating farmer markets.

Fresh Express and Gregory’s Fresh Market: Vans and buses are being converted into mobile produce markets in an effort to address food insecurity by taking healthy food directly to communities in need.
(Fresh Express / Gregory’s Fresh Market)

Good Food Finder: “Eat local. Drink local. Grow local” Good Food Finder is a statewide, online directory, where users can find good food from Arizona’s own, local food providers.

Rescued Produce: Programs that divert food from landfills by collecting and redistributing perishable, excess food from restaurants, caterers, grocers and other food providers.

U of A Community and School Garden Program: Matches university student interns with Tucson community organizations and schools to support the installation, development and maintenance of a garden program.

U of A Campus Pantry: The goal of the UA Campus Pantry is to reduce food insecurity in our Wildcat Community. At our distribution events, students and staff can grab important food staples at no cost.

Alliance for a Healthier Generation: This year, 30 schools in Arizona’s Mesa Unified School District made America’s #HealthiestSchools list. They’re inspiring the next generation of healthy kids by providing healthy meals and active learning environments.


Signature Projects

Get a bird’s eye view of efforts from around the country that can be an inspiration and reference point for Arizona-based work:

Colorado Farm to School Project: A Colorado school district that sources food from local producers to provide scratch-cooked and nutritious meals to its students.

Expansion of Breakfast in the Classroom: A federally recognized program that gives students who otherwise might not receive a morning meal the opportunity to have a healthy breakfast without the stigma of eating breakfast at school.

Food Systems Assessments: An evaluation of an entire food system by researching production inputs, distribution, processing, consumption, and waste disposal.

Fresh Future Farm: Located in a food desert in Charleston, South Carolina, the Fresh Future Farm and Retail Farm Store offer fresh, local produce and other basic amenities to residents in the community.

Healthy Corner Stores: An approach to improve food access by influencing local corner stores to provide healthier food options to their customers.

Healthy Food Financing Capital: Financing programs created to bring grocery stores, markets and innovative forms of healthy food retail and distribution to communities that do not have them.

Plan4Health – Coalitions Striving to Increase Access to Health and Nutrition in Oregon:

Reduced Water Rates for Urban Agriculture: Ordinances that create lower water costs for growers in urban settings.

Urban Agricultural Zoning Overlays: Zoning ordinances that allow the growing of healthy fruits and vegetables in areas otherwise designated for residential or commercial zoning.

Year of Healthy Communities Event Submission

Add your event to the Year of Healthy Communities calendar.

If you have questions, please contact Emily Kepner ( or 602-774-3446).
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Year of Healthy Communities Event Submission

Add your event to the Year of Healthy Communities calendar.

If you have questions, please contact Emily Kepner ( or 602-774-3446).
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