SMITHVILLE — During an all-day community event Saturday, June 29, around 20 stakeholders joined together to discuss food systems and needs in the area. The Missouri Engage Act Transform program was held at Chop’s BBQ and Catering, 109 E. Main St.

“After collecting some information, everyone was broken into four themed groups,” GK Callahan with the University of Missouri Extension said. “The themes are Home and Community Garden, Food Distribution, Emergency Food Systems and Education.”

Moving forward, each group will have regular meetings. Callahan said Education is the biggest group and is already planning a cooking class for children on July 17. Additionally, participant Kelly Kobylski said the group will have a kids cook-off on the third Saturday in September during the downtown free movie night.

“We will use food from the local pantries and farmers market,” Kelly Boley said.

Kobylski described it similar to the hit TV show “Chopped.” Children will be presented with mystery foods and will have to cook a dish.

The other groups will focus on other community needs and priorities. Callahan said Home and Community Garden is like it sounds, with a focus on encouraging more gardening around the community and in public spaces.

Food Distribution will try to identify if a year-round farmers market is possible, which would offer general food items and hopefully some items year-round that are typically seasonal, Callahan said.

With Emergency Food Systems, Callahan said some of the more predominant issues are transportation, so it will be a key focus for the group. The team will also look into whether local food pantries can unite in a single location.

“We understand these things take time. This will be a slow-moving animal,” Callahan said. “We’re going and we are here to work it out together.”

Northwest Editor Sean Roberts can be reached at sean.roberts@mycouriertribune.com or 389-6606.

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