Central Louisiana residents and businesses will be encouraged to eat local food throughout the month of June in the region’s first #AskWhatsLocal Challenge. Prizes and other incentives will be awarded to people who step up to the challenge, which began June 1st. “Eat Local Challenges are happening all over the nation to raise awareness of the economical, educational, and nutritional reasons to source your food locally,” said Kinsie Rayburn, the Farm to Table Coordinator for the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance. “The #AskWhatsLocal Challenge will be a fun way for people to eat healthy food while supporting local businesses.”
The challenge is part of the Central Louisiana Local Foods Initiative, a community effort that aims to strengthen Central Louisiana’s local foods economy while increasing access to fresh foods for all residents of the region. The initiative was created in 2012 with a Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana Grant from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation of Louisiana and matching funding from The Rapides Foundation. The initiative is being continued through a philanthropic investment from Keller Enterprises, LLC.
The #AskWhatsLocal Challenge is intended to connect Central Louisiana residents and businesses to spend their dollars on food that comes from local farms and producers. In a 2013 study on the local food economy, economist Ken Meter concluded that if each household spent just $5.00 a week on food grown within the nine-parish Central Louisiana region, the region’s farmers would retain over $91 million annually. “Locally sourcing your food purchases gives residents more fresh food options while helping local farmers, restaurant owners and businesspeople who make a living providing food. The impact on Central Louisiana’s economy as well as healthy eating is tremendous,” said CLEDA President Jim Clinton.
Registration for this challenge is free and any resident or business can join the challenge simply by visiting freshcentral.org/askwhatslocal. Participants will then earn points each time they actively seek out local produce. This includes eating at restaurants that use local ingredients, asking “What’s local?” at grocery stores, going to farmers markets and participating in the various #askwhatslocal events that will be scheduled throughout the month and posted on the Fresh Central website. Businesses will be able to earn points by catering meals that are locally sourced.
In addition, participants will earn bonus points for sharing photos of their locally sourced activities on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. At the end of the challenge, participants will turn in their scorecards to be eligible for prizes and certificates. “We want everyone to have fun with this challenge. It’s honor-based, so participants don’t have to validate their points,” Rayburn said. “We’re hoping this creates an awareness of the vibrant food economy that we have right here in Central Louisiana.”
For more information about the challenge, visit Freshcentral.org/askwhatslocal or contact Kinsie Rayburn at (318) 441-3408 or firstname.lastname@example.org.