Across US island territories, women are collaborating to improve their community resilience to climate and other future impacts by growing local food systems- but they’re being denied opportunities available to other Americans, like the National Farm to School Network. Growing a local food system can help US island territories address the vulnerabilities caused by their current reliance on food imports.
The US Virgin Islands, for example, imports as much as 99 percent of its food from the US and other countries, and other US island territories have similar high food import rates. Climate driven impacts like hurricanes and extreme heat impact shipping and supply chain routes, delaying food supplies, and the health problems from eating the imported highly processed foods have exacerbated the need for US island communities to reestablish the fruits and vegetables that were traditionally grown.
The Agriculture Department has microgrants for US territory food production, and the women activists are seeking to raise the profile of the US island territories in the Farm Bill negotiations on Capitol Hill. “What I want people to understand is we’re not asking for exceptions because we’re territories; we’re asking for inclusion in what should be afforded to every producer who’s producing in this nation,” Sommer Sibilly-Brown, a teacher in the US Virgin Islands tells the 19th. “If we are the United States, why not here?” (The 19th)