Increasing Food Security in Southeast Alaska

United States of America

As an intern with the Sitka Local Foods Network, Onagh worked to combat issues of food insecurity in Sitka, Alaska. Due to Sitka’s remote location in Southeast Alaska, the vast majority of food needs to be barged or flown in to the small island community. Food production is limited due to a lack of soil and a short growing season. These factors, combined with the fact that food prices have increased by over 40% in the past five years, leave many Sitkans without access to nutritional and affordable food. In her work with The Local Foods Network, Onagh worked to assuage this by organizing farmers’ markets, growing produce, and implementing community outreach to increase utilization of SNAP and WIC benefits at the farmers’ markets. Through radio ads, door-to-door canvassing, collaboration with community organizations, and strategizing with local public health experts, Onagh increased accessibility to local food for Sitkans of all financial backgrounds. By facing challenges rooted in Sitka’s geography, history, economics, transportation, cultural traditions, and community politics, Onagh’s eyes were opened to the complexities involved in public health work. Through the lessons learned due these complexities, Onagh is even more excited to gain experience in the fields of public and global health.